A word about our governments & Yemeni immigrants [Archives:2004/761/Opinion]

August 5 2004

By Ali Saleh Alizzani
[email protected]

I noticed that whenever there's some news regarding expatiates of any country (for example the Philippine government's decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq in order to save the life of one of its citizens, or the Lebanese outreach to the expatriates in north and south America), a Yemeni government entity appears, decides to meet, and to shows some activity that is supposed to indicate that Yemen too cares about its expatriates. It discuss the issue, establishes a committee to study the matter, and in reality nothing comes out of the excursive.
This has been the pattern for many years and I am speaking from experience, due to my involvement in the Yemeni community in particular and the Arab community in general.
Prior to the establishment of the national association of Yemeni immigrants in the late seventies, the Yemeni community in California established the Yemeni association in San Francisco for the purpose of organizing the community to look after itself and we were very successful. We developed bylaws that governed every aspect of the association's activities – educational, social, athletic and other relevant activities. It was not too long before we were visited by a government committee headed by brother Abdulfatah Albaseer who urged us to rename our association to national association of Yemeni immigrants, which was approved by most of the membership. We were promised assistance especially in solving many of the problems faced by immigrants' families back home and government help in assisting immigrants via the embassy and consulates. Some of the promises were met for a while. Later on consulates were established in San Francisco and Detroit, but whose main objective was not the service of the community but information gathering and finding out who belonged to what party or organization.
Slowly but surely the community's educational social, athletic and other activities stopped functioning. Those young immigrants who were attending colleges and universities, technical and language schools gradually dropped out.
If the Shoura council or anyone else is really concern about expatriates, they need to send an interested committee composed of educators and specialists in community affairs to study the situation and come up with recommendations to be implemented.
Education is the most available and affordable resource in the USA. How come the expatriates are not utilizing it?