DAVIE – Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said that the results of the second National Diaspora Conference held in Kingston earlier this month were encouraging.
In that regard, she urged all Jamaicans in the Diaspora to continue to harness their skills and resources for the improvement of the country and the empowerment of their respective overseas communities.
Addressing some 400 persons at a community forum last Friday (June 23) at the Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, during a two-day visit to the South Florida community, the PM said that Jamaica embraces all of its nationals living overseas and alluded to the fact that their involvement in the Diaspora defines their patriotism.
Expressing gratitude to the Diaspora for its ongoing commitment in assisting the country’s needs in areas of health, education and also charitable contributions, the Prime Minister indicated that the Diaspora Foundation is a result of Government’s framework to create a formal process to facilitate participation and involvement of all Jamaicans residing in overseas communities.
While she congratulated nationals for their individual successes and their role in contributing to the development of the communities in which they reside abroad, the PM reiterated her call for unity and for all to be a positive influence for Jamaica and the Caribbean region at large.
Turning to Government’s efforts to strengthen social programs and boost early childhood education locally, the PM mentioned a $2.5 (J-m) program to repair basic schools nationwide; a national nutrition program to support early childhood education; assistance for indigent homes and $500 (J-m) project for low income housing, and efforts to assist the sugar workers nationally.
The Prime Minister assured nationals that she was committed to ‘building a kinder, gentler and safer society for all.’ She added that as a result of measures put in place, there was a reduction in the national crime rate, and stated government’s intention to sustaining the reduced figures.
According to the PM, “democracy is alive and well in Jamaica and that the divisiveness of the past cannot be part of the present and future,” and reiterated that development of the national economy is the responsibility of all interested Jamaicans.
“Even though you live abroad, you should not feel less committed to the welfare of the Diaspora,” she reiterated to her audience of a wide representation of Jamaican nationals in the South Florida communities.
She further appealed to Jamaicans to continue to support the work of the Diaspora movement in their respective communities overseas by partnering with the projects at home or abroad.
In a brief address to the audience, the newly elected Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board representative to the Southern USA, attorney Marlon Hill, also echoed a call for unity and partnership for Jamaicans to work in the interest of the Diaspora at home and abroad.
Entertainment was provided by the Jamaica Folk Revue, a Florida-based folklore group and local dub poet, Mr. Malachi Smith. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Dahlia Walker-Huntington.
Accompanying the Prime Minister was Minister of Industry, Science Commerce and Technology, Mr. Philip Paulwell, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the USA, Professor Dr. Gordon Shirley, the Consul General, Mr. Ricardo Allicock and the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, (OPM) Ms. Pat Sinclair.