Just like migratory birds, letting Goans return to their nests is something that is getting more difficult by the day. But as the saying goes, “you can take a Goan out of Goa, but you cannot take Goa out of Goan,” began Simon D’Silva, President of the newly formed Global Goan Association.
Recognising the need of the hour and the plight of Goans scattered across the world, the seed of the Global Goan Association was planted over shared struggles and experiences that NRI communities from across the globe faced and was watered in 2020 amidst the chaos that the COVID-19 pandemic brought forth.
Fast forward to January 10, 2024. The launch of the Global Goan Association brought home Goans from everywhere who came together to strengthen one common goal, their rights in the state and country that they are rooted in and connected to in their hearts – their mankulem Goem.
The launch event held at Hotel Fidalgo in Panjim, was graced by several dignitaries including Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, Aldona MLA Carlos Alvares Ferreira, NRI Affairs Commissioner Narendra K Sawaikar and others.
A rather eventful afternoon of Konkani songs, heartfelt speeches, laughter and much-needed information about the rules that keep one away from home, the question of dual citizenship and the right to return home without a hassle echoed through The Great Hall on the first floor of Hotel Fidalgo. Afterall, if Pondicherry can have dual citizenship, why can’t Goa? they asked.
Simon has been instrumental not only in forming the Global Goan Association, but has gone above and beyond to meet and mingle with people in authority that have the power to put forth the petitions that he and other fellow Goans have had.
And, one person that he credits to being his backbone is none other than Carlos Alvares Ferriera, the man who knows the law like the back of his hand and tries his best to put it into action.
Addressing the crowd and explaining his findings on the intricacies of the law books and its rules when it comes to migration, nationality and citizenship, Carlos said, “It is a great vision to build a strong community network to be the voice of Goa, globally. We all know that Goans are unique all over the world and whenever you tell anyone that you are a Goan, there is always a different level of warmth and love with which we are received, even in our own country."
He added, “What attracted me to this association was my memories of the time that I had gone on a tour abroad and ended up meeting so many Goans who longed to come back to Goa, especially the old people. Some sang Goan songs, cooked Goan food and recalled stories from back home. It was so wonderful and touching, many wanted to come back but they couldn’t because of visa issues,”
Witnessing the longing and eagerness of those Goans to return home is what got Carlos involved when Simon approached him with the initiative.
It was only during the pandemic that the NRI Commission realised the lack of data that they had on how many Goans were abroad and where they had relocated. “We request people to register on our website so that we can get a fair count,” urged Sawaikar.
As for the Chief Minister, he was totally on board with the initiative and assured his assistance in whatever way possible.
“Houses have been constructed and the wishes to come reside in them must be fulfilled,” he smiled before concluding with his favourite line of assurance, “Bivpachi garaz na!”