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  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., has called on the leaders of the Jamaican diaspora in the United States of America (USA) to come together and develop a road map to give a stronger, collective voice to the Jamaican community.
  • He was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the inaugural Jamaica Diaspora USA leadership summit at the Morrow Convention Center in Georgia on Saturday (November 17).
  • The three-day event focused on formulating a cohesive Jamaica diaspora development plan and stimulating the USA-based network to become a structured entity with focused leadership in order to enhance the contribution of overseas nationals to Jamaica.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., has called on the leaders of the Jamaican diaspora in the United States of America (USA) to come together and develop a road map to give a stronger, collective voice to the Jamaican community.

He was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the inaugural Jamaica Diaspora USA leadership summit at the Morrow Convention Center in Georgia on Saturday (November 17).

The three-day event focused on formulating a cohesive Jamaica diaspora development plan and stimulating the USA-based network to become a structured entity with focused leadership in order to enhance the contribution of overseas nationals to Jamaica.

“This summit serves as a call to action for you, as leaders in your respective spheres of influence, to develop this plan that will bear relevance at the local, state, and federal levels,” he said.

He urged that the plan be aligned to the core values of Vision 2030 Jamaica, which is the strategic road map to guide the country to achieve its goals of sustainable development within the next 12 years.

The Foreign Affairs State Minister said that the diaspora is a key development partner and the Government continues to put measures in place to address their concerns.

He noted that a Returning Residents Taskforce has been established, which has developed a Safety and Security Handbook for persons seeking to return home and those who have already returned. The handbook is being circulated to the diaspora.

Senator Charles Jr. reported, as well, that meetings have been held with the Jamaica Customs Agency to address issues regarding charitable donations.

“We have agreed to partner, over the next few months, in developing a communication strategy to guide the diaspora on the relevant procedures and processes as they relate to the importation and donation of items into the country,” he indicated.

Senator Charles Jr. urged the Diaspora USA leaders, as they chart a path towards building a unified diaspora “to recall the history of the first generations of Jamaicans who migrated to this country”.

“They were determined and they had a strong sense of community pride, purpose and industriousness, all uniquely Jamaican,” he said, sharing that it is his firm belief that “these unique Jamaican values are why members of the diaspora continue to succeed at the highest levels in their adopted homeland”.

The summit brought together more than 200 representatives of Jamaican diaspora organisations under the theme ‘Making Our Voices Matter through Leadership’.

Accompanying the State Minister were Undersecretary for Diaspora, Protocol and Consular Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Sharon Saunders; and Acting Director of Diaspora Affairs, Lincoln Downer.

Also participating were Consuls General in Miami and New York, Oliver Mair and Trudy Deans, respectively.