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New Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Joan Thomas, says her ultimate goal is a more co-ordinated Jamaican diaspora, that would give the country a stronger voice, worldwide.
“As we share and pool energies, we can find creative ways to collectively enhance Jamaica’s development,” she said in an interview with JIS.
Ms. Thomas sees herself as a bridge linking the Jamaican diaspora in the UK with the growing Jamaican diaspora in southern Africa, as well as the wider African continent.
She comes to London after setting up Jamaica’s High Commission in South Africa (Pretoria), where she served as Acting High Commissioner for two years.
“I am coming from South Africa where I had the privilege to co-ordinate and put structure to the Jamaican diaspora in the southern African region,” she explained.
“It’s a work in progress, but one main achievement was to get the Jamaican diaspora there sensitised to working with the wider Jamaica diaspora movement,” she said.
The High Commission facilitated, for the first time, the participation of one representative from South Africa at the Diaspora Conference in Jamaica, in 2008. “I believe that, having had that experience, it is fortuitous to come to London, that has had a long established and active Jamaican diaspora,” she suggested.
Ms. Thomas grew up in Harbour View in eastern Kingston, and is a past student of Excelsior High School. She is keen to continue the work to ensure that the image of Jamaica remains positive and translates into strong gains for the island.
“We want to capitalise and leverage the positive receptivity we have internationally, that is naturally advantageous, and to ensure that this translates into positive gains for the country in terms of trade and investment,” she said.
Ms. Thomas, a career diplomat and an attorney at law, strongly believes that law is critical to the empowerment of people. She said her secondment as Human Rights Officer/Programme Team Leader for the United Nations Mission to Angola, deepened her belief in the law.
“I want to be in a position to influence laws that empower people and improve the lives of people. Ultimately, if I should leave the Foreign Service, I would like to be in a position where I can more actively influence national policy”, she went on.

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