From left: Prime Minister Stephenson King, Martha Smith of the St Lucia Consulate and Jamaican-American Assemblyman Nick Perry at St Lucia House
by Bevan Springer
New York Amsterdam News
BROOKLYN, USA — St Lucia’s citizens abroad are critically important to the development of the island nation, and its government is not going to overlook them.
That was the assurance Prime Minister Stephenson King gave to nationals over the weekend when he addressed them at Brooklyn’s St Lucia House, where he pledged both political and financial commitments to working closer with St Lucians across the Diaspora.
"St Lucia has countless human and natural resources which combine to make it a gem in the Caribbean, but one of our country’s most valuable but often unheralded resources lies abroad – overseas St Lucians," said King. "We always count on them and we should do more to count them into our tourism and development plans and hopes for the future."
Pledging EC$300,000 (US$111,000) to the development and upkeep of the new St Lucia House, King told a packed audience that he was proud to see nationals of all walks of life under one roof to counsel and guide each other while preserving St Lucia’s culture abroad.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Nick Perry also pledged US$100,000 in government funds to assist the house with capital improvements.
"We are going to build on the success of this summer’s homecoming celebrations," said Senator Allen Chastanet, St Lucia’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation who underscored the commitment of the Government and the St Lucia Tourist Board to working with nationals abroad. "We are committed to a bigger and better homecoming next year, and efforts are already under way to capitalize on the momentum that has been created," he added.
The government of St Lucia has committed a great deal of energy and resources into the reintegration of St Lucians living overseas in Saint Lucia. St Lucian Homecoming 2010, held this past summer, gave St Lucians a chance to form partnerships with their brothers and sisters who live overseas.
It was also an opportunity to thank all St Lucians, wherever they live overseas or at home, for the ways in which they have helped make their country a better place. It also encouraged those living overseas to invest their resources, skills and time in strengthening communities at home and abroad.