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Prime Minister Bruce Golding has lauded the Jamaican Diaspora for its ongoing commitment and contribution to the country’s economic development, and indicated that remittances to the island totalled over US$2 billion last year.
He pointed out that there were effective ways to utilize the skills and resources of the Diaspora, and challenged the members to join with the government in working together in achieving common goals for the country’s development. The Prime Minister was speaking at a function to honour 13 Jamaican nationals by the Jamaica Consulate in Miami, for their pioneering and preservation of the Jamaican culture, for promoting Jamaica’s development, and for extraordinary achievement in the year 2007.
The recipients were presented with plaques by the Prime Minister, and Consul General, Ricardo Allicock, during the ceremony, held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Coconut Grove on March 30.
Mr. Golding said that it was proposed to look to the Diaspora for assistance in the areas focused for development. For Jamaicans abroad, he said that it would not only be a business investment, but a cultural one as well.
“The Diaspora is too powerful not to utilize its skills and resources at home,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Golding said that in spite of the challenges, the country had the capacity to go forward, and pointed out that the country had begun to make considerable strides in positioning itself for growth.
The Prime Minister praised the honorees for demonstrating creativity, talent, dedication and commitment – traits of the true Jamaican spirit. “When you do well, we feel good,” he said. The community service awards ceremony was part of the Prime Minister’s itinerary, as he concluded a three-day visit to the South Florida Diaspora.
Consul General Allicock in his welcome address, also praised the awardees and the Diaspora at large for their outstanding contribution to their homeland and their adopted communities, through public service, private enterprises and outreach programmes, through churches and charitable organizations.
Mr. Allicock pointed out that their charitable endeavours, extraordinary achievements and personal motivation have helped to inspire and transform Jamaicans at home and abroad.
Those honoured included Dr. Ivy Claudette Armstrong, a published poet; Mayor Samuel Brown of Lauderdale Lakes; Elloreece B. Burrell, community worker in the Tampa area; Glenn Chin, NASA Mission Manager; Don Daly, media specialist; Beverly Ford, former Honorary Consul in Houston, Texas; Captain Barrington Irving, Jr., youngest and first person of African-American descent to fly solo around the world; Rev. Horace Ward of Holy Family Episcopal Church in North Miami; Joyce Wright, founder of the Jamaica Nurses Association of Florida; educators, Dr. Winston Whyte and Dr. Karl S. Wright; and cultural fore-runners, Michael and Jackie Shaw of Sunshine Theatre Company.
Also recognized at the ceremony were newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Anthony Johnson; Ambassador Dudley Thompson; newly appointed Consul General to New York, Carol Brown-Metzger; Omari Fullerton, Honorary Consul in Houston, Texas, and former Consul General to New York, Dr. Basil Bryan.