I was encouraged by your presentation at the Diaspora Conference a couple weeks ago and, as promised, I wish to set out some proposals for your further consideration.
There is a number of ways in which the Diaspora currently engage and could engage with the development of our country, some of which you began to address in your presentation. The first and most obvious is remittances.
Sending remittances home has been part of the Diaspora’s continued involvement with immediate and extended family ever since the first Grenadian left to find work abroad. Many of us have relatives who in earlier generations worked on the Panama Canal, in the oilfields of South Trinidad, with the Lago Oil Company in Aruba and Curacao, in the sugar and tobacco industries in Cuba and in mining and forestry in Guyana, long before mass migration to Britain and the USA in the 1950s and after. Such remittances have contributed to the Grenadian economy and to national development in several ways, e.g:
- By providing disposable income to relatives and helping to relieve poverty;
- By providing goods and commodities for domestic use and for farming/fishing;
- By supporting small businesses (grocers and hardware merchants) in local villages and towns through the purchasing power of the recipients of remittances;
- By funding the schooling and education of the children of the recipients of remittances, especially in vocational training and tertiary education;
- By sending funds home for the maintenance, repair/extension/refurbishment of their former homes;
- By ‘returning home’ and building new homes;
- By starting new businesses on returning home;
To be anecdotal for a moment, my father worked with Lago in Aruba for six years prior to returning home and building a new and larger house for his growing family. He also bought lands in the Concord Mountain which he cultivated until Hurricane Janet wrecked the country and caused people like him to dig up roots once again and seek employment and a reliable and sustainable income in the UK. Many of his fellow workers at Lago also built houses and started small businesses on returning to Grenada, some buying and operating the old style, open-sides buses; some opening grocery or hardware stores and others working as builders. Read the rest of this entry →