By Vania Andre

The National Association of Haitian Professionals (NAHP) hosted their 3rd annual conference “Haiti Beyond Haiti – Policies and Pathways to Effective Diaspora Engagement” on Nov. 14 – 15 at Harvard University. The conference which, assembled a diverse team of stakeholders from across the Haitian Diaspora, explored initaitves that would lead to effective engagement within the Haitian Diaspora and yield high-impact investment in Haiti.

It’s important to understand the strategy the Marthelly / Lamothe administration has in place for the Diaspora so you can know where you fit in, Minister for Haitians living abroad François Guillaume II said. During the conference, Minister Guillaume spoke about the government’s four prong approach to involving members of the Diaspora in matters regarding Haiti. The plan involves a “real census campaign,” mobilizing investment initiatives, changing the perception of Haiti and establishing a strong presence in the Diaspora.

The Diaspora, who Minister Guillaume describes as “anyone with a cultural or blood tie to Haiti,” is a dynamic and diverse group that offers a real value to the country. The “human resource capital” Haiti has outside of it’s geographical borders is one of our biggest assets, the minister said. This dynamic group of people serve as cultural ambassadors for Haiti and help in the rebranding efforts for the country that in turn helps in attracting investors and tourists.

“There’s a rule book on how to integrate the Diaspora into government initiatives,” he said. “A census will help us identify who is doing what in the Diaspora so we can strategically categorize who fits where.”

The two-day conference presented over 10 panels and workshops open to the general public throughout the weekend. This year, the NAHP conference featured a diverse roster of speakers, including Ambassador of Haiti in Washington, D.C. Paul Altidor, Ambassador to South Africa, Patrick H. Gaspard, Minister of Haitians Living Abroad François Guillaume, Haitian Minister of Commerce and Industry Wilson Laleau and Massachusetts State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.

“The NAHP feels that now is the time for the Diaspora and Haiti to unite to launch and lead sustainable impact in Haiti,” Serge Renaud, Chairperson of the Board, NAHP said. “We believe the conference opens the pathways to engage these two groups.”

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