SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) program was able to host an in-person launch of a new round of project financing. The Round-4 launch for the ten selected projects was hosted by local radio personality and R4CR communications advisor Kevin “Suppa” Petrona with the key note speech by Darin “King Verse” Hodge.
Elger Vermeer, Program Manager of VNGI Netherlands, joined via video link from The Hague and welcomed the guests and grant recipients to the launch event. He took a few moments to introduce Steve Duzanson as the new Team Leader of the local R4CR office and thanked outgoing Team Leader Rolf Hunink for the excellent job he has done during the last 2 years on Sint Maarten. Vermeer stood still by the fact that it was exactly 5 years ago that hurricane Irma devastated the island, but that so much has been rebuild thanks in part to the efforts of civil society organizations (CSOs). He congratulated the grant recipients and wished them much success during the implementation of their projects.
Team Leader of the local R4CR office, Steve Duzanson, reflected on what the program has achieved half way through the implementation period which runs to 2024. “At the halfway point we have committed 2.3 million dollars of the 4 million dollars in grants available to local CSOs”.
Projects completed under the R4CR program thus far include the rebuilding of 3 play schools damaged by hurricane Irma, providing food for 700 children in daycare centers, adding 12 murals to beautify Philipsburg, providing long-term transportation solution to mobility impaired seniors and battered women, upgrading playground facilities for children, clean up campaigns on land and in the sea, swimming and sailing lessons for disadvantaged kids, dive training and maritime certification for young disadvantaged adults, literacy classes for adults, after school steel pan classes and cultural expression for school children, and securing anti-retroviral medication, testing and counselling for uninsured HIV patients.
“None of these projects would have been possible without funding from the Netherlands. I would therefore like to thank the people of the Netherlands (through the local representative, VNP) for providing the funds for the post hurricane Irma reconstruction. I would also like to congratulate all R4CR grant recipients and their volunteers who work tirelessly and selflessly to provide a better quality of life to everyone on the island” Duzanson concluded.
In his key note speech King Verse shared his experience producing 12 videos for the R4CR Round-3 grant recipients: “I was blown away by the good work the CSOs do. I had no idea that this even existed on Sint Maarten. It was heartwarming to see the mediation work being done between victim and perpetrator by SJIB or how the adult literacy program is lifting adults out of isolation
(a project being implemented by Hearts United Foundation). There is a vibrant community of CSOs and volunteers doing such good work and many people are not aware of this.
The videos give a glimpse into this world and gives a face to all those who work tirelessly in the background. It is important that these stories be told and I am elated that I was able to be a part of it” stated King Verse
After the keynote address each grant recipient was given 1 minute to “pitch” their R4CR Round-4 project:
- The Sint Maarten Yacht Club kicked of the pitches describing their program of bringing sailing closer to the community and the specially designed swim-to-sail program for children who cannot swim.
- The Freegan Food Market was next explaining their project of providing 70 needy families, benefitting some 250 persons, with the opportunity to shop weekly at the Freegan Food Market and select the goods they want for their families. This helps them maintain their dignity despite being in a difficult situation.
- Sally Benjamin of New Start For Kids Foundation was happy with the prospect of purchasing a new bus to safely transport the foster children in her care to school and all their after school activities.
- No Kidding With Our Kids Foundation on the other hand will set up an agricultural demonstration site where kids and adults can experience different cultivation methods and learn to grow their own food at home.
- Our Creations Arts & Crafts Foundation’s project is focused on refurbishing their new location in Cole Bay where they will retail locally made arts & crafts (such as the “Titah Frock”), give a variety of creative workshops and promote Sint Maarten history and culture, which in turn also provides seniors with an extra activity and a means to gain additional financial support.
- The Senior Citizen Recreational Foundation, whom has their own building, explained that they will be producing a marketing and communication plan to increase the utilization rate of their facility in Hope Estate, and in doing so, increase the revenue stream to make the foundation more sustainable and resilient.
- In their one-minute pitch the Sint Maarten Heart and Stroke Foundation explained that they will be going out in the districts to provide information on heart diseases and strokes, the risk factors, prevention and monitoring. The foundation will have blood pressure monitors available free of charge for use by those who are interested and in need.
- Ecotourism is the central theme of Nature Foundation’s R4CR project; they will train and certify volunteers to conduct birding tours and build a bird watching platform. They hope to make bird watching an additional tourist attraction on the island, as this has proven to be a lucrative business worldwide and a stimulus for nature protection.
- The Sea Rescue Foundation only needed 30 seconds to explain their project of making the vessel ‘Dolphin Rescue’ operational for rescue activities, ensuring everyone can be safe out in the ocean.
- Last up was Foundation Judicial Institutes (SJIB) who will use their grant to purchase hardware, software and a security system for the newly established foster home in Dutch Quarter (which is managed by the Dr. J Foundation). In addition to training on ICT security being provided to the staff and foster care clients.
The official part of the launch ended with the symbolic signing of the grant agreements by the CSOs. After a short break the CSOs participated in the Pre-Disbursement Training which all grant recipients must complete before any funds can be disbursed to their projects. The training gives the grant recipient clear insight into the rules and regulations of the grant scheme, such as reporting requirements, requesting advances and the social and environmental standards applicable to the R4CR program.
The R4CR program includes a grant scheme as funding mechanism for community and social rehabilitation initiatives on Sint Maarten and focuses on improving the capacity of local civil society organizations (CSOs) in reconstruction and resilience activities post hurricane Irma.
It is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is administered by the World Bank and monitored by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB). The R4CR program is implemented by VNGI.
For more information about the R4CR program or a detailed review of all R4CR projects please visit www.r4cr.org or the Facebook page (R4CRSXM).