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Show appreciation to Vincentians in the Diaspora

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Fri, Jan 6. 2011

Editor: New Year greetings to all Vincentians, especially to those who live in the Diaspora.

I wish for all of us, at the very least, incremental prosperity, despite the mounting challenges that 2012 is likely to bring to our doorsteps. Together, we can minimise the impact of these challenges if we are sensitive to the fact that all of us have a role to play.{{more}}

Socially, we are obliged to help foster a greater appreciation of order, discipline, tolerance and a greater respect for the rule of law. We are aware that times are hard for many, if not for most, of us. For this very reason, we must not accept as a “fact of life” the increasing acts of thuggery and hoodlumism. We must be neighbourly and encourage the basic decencies of life – salutations, patience, shared understanding, road courtesies, etc. In addition, we should embrace social causes that help to uplift those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Where practicable, we should also support business ventures and programmes that favour economic growth at both micro and macro levels.

It is common knowledge that remittances from Vincentians who live abroad are a critical element in shoring up our balance of payments position. We take it for granted, and we often pay little attention to this important contributor which gets very little public recognition. Though declining, remittances still contribute in excess of $100 million to the country’s coffers. What is so good about this factor is that it comes with few strings attached. There are no concessions to be negotiated. The money does not directly go back out of the country in the several forms available to direct foreign investors. It does not stagnate at the bureaucracy of any government authority. Instead, it goes directly to the bank account and purse of the ordinary man and woman.

While we do what we must to build our economy through both public and private sector initiatives, we must, from this distance, support the efforts of Vincentians abroad who seek to uplift themselves professionally and who fight to build businesses within their targeted communities.

I am advised that 85 out of every 100 Vincentian university graduates are gainfully employed outside of this country. It is a staggering proportion at first glance. However, we should not despair and speak of a brain drain problem if these graduates, and others, can still make a meaningful contribution to their homeland. We want to tap into their individual and collective experiences. We want access to their intellect and to their creativity. We want access to their network of friends and colleagues so as to promote St Vincent and the Grenadines as an emerging tourist destination. We want to encourage them to continue assisting their family and friends at home. We want them to come home as often as they can and build even stronger familial bonds. We must frequently remind them that they are appreciated and that we are profoundly grateful.

This year, there are a number of events targeting the Vincentian Diaspora scheduled to take place in High Wycombe, Ontario, New York, and elsewhere. There are other initiatives that should redound to the benefit and good image of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Let us all support them in every way possible and show our appreciation to our fellow nationals abroad for all that they will continue to do – despite the challenges that they, too, face.

Joel Providence

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