SINT MAARTEN (CAY BAY) – A joint initiative of Be The Change Foundation, Terre Plurielle Foundation and Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben has led to the reopening of the Little Goslings daycare and nursery in Cay Bay exactly 2 years after it was decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
Earlier this summer, Be The Change Foundation received a grant from Terre Plurielle Foundation, the corporate foundation of Bouygues Construction who since 2008 has worked to promote education, employment opportunities, healthcare and support for special needs groups wherever the group is established through financial support and the voluntary involvement of their employees. The project, still ongoing and also funded in part by Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben, is aimed at repairing three daycare centers which were badly damaged by the 2017 hurricanes: Little Goslings in Cay Bay, Discovery Kidz in Dutch Quarter and Lighthouse in Fort Willem.
Here in St. Maarten, where many children come from single-parent households, and/or households with both parents working full-time (especially in this post-Irma setting), these institutions are especially important for the success and positive development of our communities. According to UNICEF, “children who receive early childhood education achieve more success at school and as adults have higher employment and earnings, better health and lower levels of welfare dependence and crime rates than those who don’t have these early opportunities.”
However, daycares, play schools and nurseries can often times be considered the ‘left behind’ organizations within the NGO sector since they do not qualify for government subsidy, but are nevertheless government inspected and regulated. Therefore, parental contributions alone make it difficult to cover high utility overheads, teacher salaries, and not to mention, the high construction costs of repairs to their premises.
Be that as it may, Little Goslings, the first of the 3 daycares sponsored by the joint project has officially reopened, with lots of support from the business community as well. A 19 cu.ft. General Electric refrigerator was donated by SHAMS, a local business providing home appliances, electronics and mattresses that has been serving our island and surrounding islands since 1989. A brand-new full-color aluminum board sign for the daycare was printed and donated by Print & Sign Express located on Cannegieter Street; air conditioning split units were provided and installed by Tony’s Air Conditioning and Brian Boekhoudt; and custom school shirts for new and returning students kindly discounted by T-Shirt Maxx in Cole Bay.
Colleen Cato, the directress of Little Goslings says she is absolutely elated and overjoyed to be open again, exactly 2 years since she thought all was lost due to Irma's wrath. Cato states, "Now that we are open again, we can direct all of our time and energy towards ensuring the children's development and preparing them for a successful transition into Cycle 1."