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Diaspora wants say in reconstruction of BVI

Some members of the BVI diaspora during a meeting at the BVI London Office. Photo provided

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) diaspora in the United Kingdom and United States said they want the territory to use the post-hurricane reconstruction as an opportunity to set a new vision and course for itself.

Members of the diaspora also underscored the importance of their input in plans for reconstruction, adding that they are willing to participate in the process, said Director of the BVI London Office Benito Wheatley.

Hurricane Irma, on September 6, resulted in four reported deaths in the BVI, as well as the destruction of public and private properties.

The territory, at this moment, is at the early stages of a massive reconstruction exercise.

“There is a deep desire by our communities abroad to be directly involved in recovery and reconstruction,” Wheatley said.

“They (members of the diaspora) see reconstruction not simply as a process of rebuilding, but an opportunity to set a new vision and course for the BVI. They desire an official platform by which to feed their ideas into planning, and by which to participate in the reconstruction process so they can help to make the BVI better than before for its people.”

Wheatley said members of the BVI diaspora also discussed their plans to assist ongoing relief efforts through supplies drives and fundraising events.

“The BVI communities in the United Kingdom and United States have been doing everything in their power to assist relief efforts, and are planning more events and fundraisers to support the territory’s recovery. An international BVI diaspora network will certainly be of great value to the territory as we rebuild,” added Wheatley, who recently attended diaspora meetings in Manchester and London in the United Kingdom, as well as New York in the United States.

“I was moved by how committed BVIslanders in the United Kingdom and United States are to the BVI, and impressed at how well they have already organised themselves in cities such as London, Manchester, and Bristol in the UK; and in the United States in New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and in North Carolina.”

Meanwhile, during the town hall meeting in London, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith updated members of the diaspora by phone in relation to Government’s recovery efforts. He also commended the diaspora for its support.

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