With nearly three million nationals living outside the country, including about 300,000 in Canada, the Jamaica Diaspora is considered one of the largest in the world.
To maximize the significant resource pool, the Jamaican government has implemented a mapping project aimed at determining the location, interest and skills of Diaspora members.
“The end result of this is the creation of a database of Jamaicans worldwide who are interested in contributing to the nation’s development through social and financial investments,” said Arnaldo Brown, Jamaica’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, while in Toronto last week. “It will provide a tool to match skills in the Diaspora with gaps that exist in Jamaica. Your contribution can make a world of difference. Just look at the power of remittances. Although the individual amounts are small, collectively, a big impact is felt through the Jamaican society.”
The International Organization for Migration is funding the project.
“When you analyze every diaspora relationship, it’s evident that we can be the best in that regard which is where we intend to go,” said Brown. “However, to become the best, we have to be organized and engaged. We are laying the foundation and the platform for that organization to be developed and the engagement to be strengthened.”
Nationals are being encouraged to participate in the survey to determine the skills and interests of nationals. They can log on to www.mapjadiaspora.iom.int. The website houses survey instruments geared towards community, alumni or other philanthropic associations.
“We want to know your skills set and interests, where you want to be engaged and what activities you are already engaged in,” said Brown, who is also responsible for the Diaspora portfolio. “We want to know who you are, where you are, what you are doing and how you can become engaged. We are encouraging Jamaicans wherever they are to sign up and become engaged in the process of nation building.
“I am not using nation simply in the geographical sense because when you talk about Jamaica, we are not talking about the 14 parishes. Jamaicans are scattered far and wide. We are speaking about the Jamaican community everywhere and anywhere.”
It’s estimated there are approximately 1.8 million nationals residing in the United States and nearly 650,000 in the United Kingdom.
Jamaican nationals have made significant contributions to Canada and other parts of the world. In the late 19th and first three decades of the 20th century, thousands of Jamaicans went to Costa Rica and other Central American countries to build railways and administer banana plantations.
“We have a very rich legacy,” said Brown. “I believe that Jamaicans working together can transform the fortunes of all Jamaicans. This is not simply about the Jamaicans that are in Jamaica. Our interest is the progress, development and the full realization of the full potential of Jamaicans everywhere. We can contribute to that development once we are organized and engaged.”
By RON FANFAIR