Need for a more engaged diaspora in development of the third-world

One often meets people in the diaspora who, at some point, had every intention of going back to their country of origin to start a business or create an organization.  However, after taking on major life responsibilities; starting a family, taking on debts, they are forced to embrace the fact that this desire will never materialize.

However, it’s not necessary for someone currently living in the diaspora to pack up and move to a country in order to contribute to its development.  Of course being there would offer the advantage of feeling more engaged and could make it easier to putting plans into actions.  But with the kind of technological resources developed in the past few decades, interaction with the rest of the world has become easier than ever before.  What a lot of us fail to realize is that the world has gotten much smaller and more connected than ever before.  People are running multi-million dollar international businesses off their laptop computer.  More and more organizations are spreading their workforce throughout the globe. The Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia by people sharing pictures on social media of man setting himself on fire in protest, swept through the region, and resulted regime changes in several countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East.  The point of these examples is that distance cannot stop you from having an impact.

The involvement of the diaspora is not an option

It’s not an option that the diaspora gets involved in the development of the third-world countries, but a necessity.  When you or your family left the country, also left was your potential contribution to the country’s success. And nothing else is as powerful as the collective effort of the people when it comes to pushing a country toward progress.  President John F Kennedy once said, “don’t ask your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” That statement came from understanding of how important grass-roots effort is to a country’s development. It’s important that the one holds unto that sense of personal responsibility even when you are no longer living in the country.

Remittance is not suffice

Now, one might ask; the diaspora sends remittance to these countries, isn’t that enough? Not that remittance isn’t important, but it doesn’t help a country as much as people usually think. Here’s the thing, money is used to purchase goods and services. And the main problem with the third-world countries is the fact they don’t produce these goods locally, most goods are imported.  And enterprises that offer the services available for purchasing are not owned by locals.  That means the remittance sent doesn’t stay in these countries for the most part. The infrastructure necessary to keep the money, have it invested in the country’s economy, is just not there.  Building that infrastructure is where the involvement of the people, including the diaspora, becomes important.

As matter of fact, remittance itself can become counter intuitive to a country’s development.  When the people becomes too dependent on the diaspora, that can cause them to not invest much effort into self-reliance, to learn how to forge their ways out of bad economic conditions.

History always repeats itself when we fail to learn      

A few weeks ago the social media networks buzzed with people expressing their anger and frustrations after president Donald Trump allegedly referred to Haiti, African and some Latin American countries as “shitholes”. The frustration, the media posts can last for so long.  Then everyone goes back to their normal activities. The truth is, unless the situation of these countries changes, 10/15/20 years from now we will be back right here again, where these immigrants have to be defended after someone makes such an offensive comment.  It won’t be Donald Trump then, but surely it will happen again.


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Joanes Legiste