Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (1909)

Child Protection Board on working visit to the Caribbean Netherlands

BONAIRE - At the invitation of the Guardianship Council Dutch Caribbean, the Child Protection Board (RvdK) is on working visit on Bonaire from November 18th to November 22nd. The working visit will focus on the Youth Protection Training that starts next week, learning from each other and strengthening international cooperation.

Start training Youth Protection

The week starts with a visit to the Guardianship Council on Bonaire, where the final preperations of a Youth Protection Course takes place. Starting next week, Council researchers from the Guardianship Council Caribbean Netherlands on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will be trained by trainers from the Child Protection Board from the Netherlands.

The training lasts one and a half year. After the first training week on Bonaire, the council researchers continue the training in an e-learning environment and receive remote supervision. The senior council researchers are conducting the "train the trainer program". With this they can play a role as a trainer in the region in the future.

Learn and connect

The continuation of the working visit is all about learning from each other. The program includes a visit to the new prison, Youth Care and Family Guardianship (JGCN), Stichting Reclassering Caribisch Nederland (SRCN), the court and the Security House, Krusada Foundation and the Project Foundation.

The Netherlands, the Caribbean Netherlands and the other islands can learn a lot from each other. For example, how do the islands deal with the deployment of specialist assistance and capacity? How do they tackle juvenile crime, domestic violence and child abuse on the islands and how do these problems differ from the European Netherlands?

And what can the RvdK learn from the creativity in solutions and close chain cooperation that is necessary because of the small scale of the islands? The Guardianship Council Caribbean Netherlands and the RvdK attach great importance to cooperation with each other. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)


SXM has many heroes. Your efforts are clearly noticed by WINAIR and the people

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY – By Michael Cleaver) - I recently traveled via PJIAE as I often do and will endeavor to share some details of this trip, before that I would like to preface some important facts. Since the passing of Hurricane’s Irma and Maria, SXM has had many heroes in their aftermath, our folks at GEBE, TELEM and numerous entities, both public and private sectors worked tirelessly to restore conditions for our life to continue, you did a great job, a debt of gratitude is owed to you.

This work continues at a great financial and personal sacrifice to you. PJIAE is THE driver of our economy and suffered massive damage during Irma/Maria, these effects continue to be felt buy all users of PJIAE, both local and our tourists (who will travel via St. Maarten to our region). Their presence and importance to St. Maarten is paramount and contributes to the rebuilding of our economy, we need them more now than ever in the history of this country.

One more important fact, this is not intended in any way to be a slight or recrimination of those involved in the restoration of our once beautiful and efficient PJIAE (the former showcase of the Caribbean). We understand the congestion at PJIAE is a fact of life until she is completely restored to its former self.  

One thing I observed was that the staff and all employees public and private at PJIAE are working against the odds, the facility remains damaged, band aids are being put in place in an effort to make PJIAE more acceptable to the users. To point fingers or assess blame is not the answer and will not rebuild our badly needed PJIAE.

Every day it is like putting 20LBs of potatoes in a 10LB bag. Each entity (airlines, handlers, immigration, security, taxi’s, porters, FBO’s, EVERYONE) has changed its process’s, hired additional employees, changed locations in a concerted effort to make the airport experience better! We collectively would be remiss if we did not PUBLICLY THANK THESE HERO’s who for 2+ years continue to work diligently against challenging odds to provide service to our local and foreign visitors.

This is a fact, we see it daily at PJIAE, our thanks to all of you. For several years you are coping against insurmountable conditions, which is not an easy task, no one can ask any more of any one. This work, current and future challenges will continue for the upcoming season and foreseeable future, your efforts are clearly noticed by WINAIR and the people who call St. Maarten home. 


Michael Cleaver

President and CEO of WINAIR


Wuite delivers National Statement to 40th Session of UNESCO General Conference

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – On November 14, 2019, Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite delivered Sint Maarten’s National Statement at the 40th session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference in Paris France.

The Sint Maarten delegation at the General Conference comprised of Marcellia Henry, Secretary General for UNESCO, Sint Maarten and Carol Voges, Director of the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary, and Kamilah Gumbs, youth representative for the 11th UNESCO Youth Forum, who will be joining the delegation for the youth forum on November 18-19.

The delegation was part of a wider kingdom delegation including the Ministers of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, Curacao and Aruba.

Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite, on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, who was unable to attend the General Conference, shared the progress of Sint Maarten on behalf of the Government and the people of the country.

A major highlight of the speech related to the Department of Culture and the Sint Maarten National Commission for UNESCO officially launching Sint Maarten’s first Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) inventory under the awareness campaign, I.R.I.CH., which means ‘I Remember Intangible Cultural Heritage’.

Sint Maarten reaffirming its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was another high point of the speech.

Minister Wuite also emphasized Sint Maarten’s strong support of the UNESCO Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Action Plan and UNESCO’s initiatives aimed at promoting the importance of mitigation and adaptation, as well as building the resilience of SIDS to impact climate change.

The Minister also accentuated that only by working together and granting SIDS an equal platform within global platforms, such as UNESCO, can we ensure the creation of a desirable future for all our children.

During the conference, Minister Marilyn M. Alcala-Wallé of Curacao, on behalf of the Dutch Kingdom signed the 2019 Regional Convention for the Recognition of Studies, Degrees and Diplomas in Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This instrument commits the signatory countries to adopt all necessary measures to recognize the studies, degrees and diplomas of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean according to the terms contained in the new Convention.

The aim is to promote academic mobility in the region, intraregional cooperation and regional integration.

Minister Plenipotentiary, Jorien Wuite and Marcellia Henry, Secretary General for UNESCO support the convention and the implications for Sint Maarten and look forward to our island ratifying the convention in the near future.

The Sint Maarten delegation also secured two high-level meetings with Directors of the Social and Human Sciences Sector at UNESCO where the Anti-Doping Convention and the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme were discussed.

Outcomes of the meeting were the necessity for Sint Maarten to ratify the 2005 International Convention against Doping in Sport, and to be actively involved in the MOST programme.

Further collaboration for the MOST programme will also be explored between the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in the Netherlands (OCW) and the Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten.

Another positive result was Sint Maarten obtaining the opportunity to participate in the upcoming Second UNESCO International Science School “Promoting youth leadership on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean” Regional event to be organized in Havana, Cuba, from 3 to 5 December 2019.


Merciful Mothers and Gregorian Reggae on St. Tosia

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY - by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert) - St.Tosia has a well-functioning health care system. The modern 75-bed fully equipped hospital of the island belongs to the Hospice of St.Tosia which is part of the Catharsis Monastery. From its foundation on until today, at the Hospice of St.Tosia, the elderly, disabled and sick people, orphans, women about to give birth and the destitute have all been uninterruptedly welcomed for treatment and refuge.

Medical insurance did not exist then when the Hospice was founded in the 17th century and is not required now either, no down payments for admission, no credit cards and no invoices. It saves the hospital the costs of a bureaucratic administration apparatus. No need to stand in line for admission or registration. No need to show an ID because every needy individual is a human being first and not a number. The patient gets what is needed, period. The Hospice was and is still financed by donations of grateful families of patients and generous benefactors who are often offshore investors and descendants of the pirates of the good-old-days way back then.

The Hospice of St.Tosia was founded by Bonne Soeur Aubrey de Beaune who was so disturbed by the variety of abuse she experienced during her six-week sailing trip from the French port of Nantes to the Caribbean colony of Guadeloupe in 1635, that she decided to distance herself from her partner and managed to escape to St.Tosia where she entered the Order of Catharsians. The Catharsian nuns on the island are also known as “Merciful Mothers of the Innocent Lambs” and they are devoted medical missionaries. For them medical support and care are a calling and not a business. From the very beginning the “Merciful Mothers” who operate the hospital have also opened their establishment for the education of young ladies, and it is known as the “Convent of the Innocent Lambs”. Many young brats from the island have learned from the saintly health practicing teachers; lessons that have fortified them for their future duties in the world.

The Catharsis Monastery crowns the rugged Kalinago Hill on the most northern part of St.Tosia. It was constructed on top of an older pagan site of the Carib Indians who have populated the island from about 1200 AD but were later displaced by the European conquerors by warfare and extermination. An old manuscript in the library of the monastery explains that the reason for the construction on the hilltop was to remind monks “of the ascent they must make in their life”.

The somewhat tilting Bell Tower of the chapel next to the cloister is one of the most significant landmarks in the Caribbean. Every 15 minutes “La Nina”, the high voice small bell in the chapel tower rings; one ding for quarter past the hour, two dings for the half hour, three for quarter to, and four signaling that the full hour was reached and then it was followed by the one to twelve dongs of “La Nonna”, the big bell, indicating the hour. Fifteen minutes before a worshipping service in the chapel there are three full minutes of dingdonging mission bells.

On the way up the meandering road to the monastery one cannot help but notice that you are disconnecting yourself from the turmoil below. The silence becomes palpable as the dwellings are now few and far between. It is one of the most peaceful and tranquil places on the Island where the environment is outright serene. The views from the hilltop to the sea are breath taking and the atmosphere is invigorating. The Catharsis Monastery complex encompasses not only the religious buildings, but also a farm, a home for the aged, a drug rehabilitation unit and of course the Hospice with its modern Hospital.

The Order of Catharsians allows for both monks and nuns; a mixed bag, you might call it. The Catharsis Monastery is currently headed jointly by Prior Petrus and Abbess, the Reverent Mother Dominiana. To become a Catharsian Nun or Monk, the desire alone does not suffice. Alone she or he enters the order who has felt a call in the very center of the soul which is more powerful than any of the contradictory forces within and around her or him; a rule which may not always be easy to stick to on an island like St.Tosia.

Whereas the nuns are devoted to health care and prayer, the monks are under slightly different types of vows and spend less time in prayer and more time in farming, manual labor and undertaking physical repairs provide assistance to the monastery community and managing supplies; monks-of-all-trades so to say.

During the daily evening mess the Gregorian chants of the monks permeate the entire compound and mesmerize anyone. They sing like heavenly angels. That is not surprising because prior to the evening mess there is a “Happy Hour” and it is the only time of the day that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is allowed and only of those devout drinks produced at other saintly monasteries, like the fine French liquors Chartreuse and DOM Benedictine and Trappist Beer of the Westmalle Abbey in Belgium.

Also permitted in this hour is the smoking of incense cigars that spread the sweet perfume similar to that of patchouli oil and high-ascending smoke. It is all solely employed for the divine purpose of worship and lifting the spirits of this celestial community. The other day, as he inhaled the blessed aromatic odor, the 85-year-old and somewhat conservative Friar Augustin commented that he believed that it smelled like burnt lawn clippings. The young and very liberal Friar Sunshine, who is in charge of cultivation of herbs and spices in the Clairvaux type cloister gardens, hid a big grin behind his beard when he heard the comment.

The Catharsian monks of St.Tosia have rereleased several CDs of Gregorian Reggae Chants that evangelize Caribbean Reggae. Their songs are well sold worldwide on Spotify under their group artist name of “The Barefoot Friars”. The custom of chanting unshod was introduced by Prior Petrus several years ago since he believed that Pope Gregory the Great, who gave his name to Gregorian music in the early Middle Ages, would be proud if he could hear the Friars from St.Tosia sing their Gregorian Reggae interpretations. The album “Rocksteady Gregorian Reggae” by the “The Barefoot Friars” made it to the Billboard 100 for seven consecutive weeks and the solo song “Cantus Calypso Gregoriani” by the white-bearded Friar Eucredo became an instant smash in the Caribbean as soon as it hit the airwaves.

The well-known Billboard magazine of the popular music industry commented that if you let the Friars-on-bare-feet lose on stage, they are wild crowd pleasers. It should not come as a surprise that the Catharsian Friars have their own float in the St.Tosia Carnival Parade and the amplified Gregorian Reggae Chants appeal to the cheering crowds who are hard-driving uncontrollably off the beat.

The funds earned from royalties and group appearance fees are another form of financial support of the Monastery. After all, it was founded on the principles of self-sufficiency. In that regard it should also be mentioned that the handmade Sandals of the Catharsian Monks are sold in all the souvenir shops of St.Tosia and cruise ship gift shops as “orthotic friendly flip-flops”.

It was in 1925 that the renowned rum-runner Walter “Wally” Britches, owner of the only rum distillery on the island and the then sanctuary’s Prior Primus agreed on holding a Charity Rum Auction which is now still held in November each year. Rum distilleries from the neighboring islands would donate rum in a barrel that yields approximately 288 standard 750 ml bottles which translate to 24 cases of 12 bottles. The management of the distilleries would be blessed in a special ceremony in the chapel, and receive a certified recognition of being “Purveyor to the Monastic Court of St.Tosia”, which all works quite well for their product adverting and promotions.

After the donation, the rum remains in the cellars of the Monastery to mature in the oak barrels for another year or two; it will then be bottled, labeled, and packed up for shipment mainly to the USA. The label on the bottles features the prominent crest of the Hospice of St.Tosia, as well as the name of the company that bought the rum. Although the prestigious weekend surrounding the Charity Rum Auction has become a vanity event, the funds go to support the benevolent works of the Monastery of St.Tosia.

About the author:

The almost true stories and almost believable stories of St.Tosia are written by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert who claims that it is what he has experienced while residing on St.Tosia and monitoring what else is going on in the Caribbean.


Amsterdam schools face ultimatum over parental contributions

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam city council says it will stop giving extra subsidies to schools which ask parents for more than €225 a year in voluntary contributions.

Parental contributions, used by schools to fund extras such as music lessons or lunchtime supervision, prove an obstacle to poorer families and increase inequality in educational opportunities, education alderman Marjolein Moorman has told councillors.

‘Amsterdam is a city in which every child should have equal opportunities and no parent should be put off by high contributions,’ she said. The upper limit will be lowered again to €112, the city average, in the 2021-22 academic year.

Some schools in the city ask parents for as much as €700 a year in extra funding, according to local broadcaster AT5. Schools are largely funded by central government, but local authorities provide top-up money which is used to pay for specialised teaching help for cultural and gym as well as extra support staff.



Today’s youngsters are more conservative than their parents, report says

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch people in their 20s and 30s are more conservative than their elders, research by Tilburg University seems to suggest, particularly where abortion and euthanasia are concerned.

‘The younger generations seem to be looking for a new set of values to identify with and in doing so they are harking back to the past,’ Tilburg sociologist Quita Muis told the AD.

The study, to be published in the journal Mens en Maatschappij, is based on data from a European study that has been ongoing for almost 40 years. Some 7,000 Dutch people are part of the research project, answering questions on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, suicide and homosexuality.

The majority of this group still favour free choice where these issues are concerned but researchers have found that those born in the 1980s and 1990s are much more conservative than the so-called baby boomer generation.

For instance, 8.1% of people in their 20s and 11.5% of 30-somethings think that abortion is never justifiable compared to 7% of the over-40s. It’s too early to say that conservatism is on the rise, Muis said.

‘But the trend of becoming ever more progressive has clearly stopped.’ Christa Compas, director of the Humanistisch Verbond, said the findings were worrying, especially about the right to abortion.

‘Young people are used to having everything organised for them. They don’t realise that this has been fought for and that we must cherish this right.’



Minister to publish pension plan next week, most funds will avoid cuts

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees will tell MPs next week what he intends to do to help pension funds avoid reducing pension payouts next year, sources have told the NRC.

Opposition parties GroenLinks and Labour, and the FNV trade union federation, have said they will withdraw their support for plans to reform the Dutch pension system if the government does not give assurances no pension will be cut in 2020.

A number of funds have warned that pension cuts are likely under current rules. And central bank president Klaas Knot has also said cuts cannot be avoided without passing the risk on to younger generations.

In June, unions, ministers, political parties and employers agreed plans to overhaul the Dutch pension fund system, which would reduce the pressure on funds to keep their assets topped up.

That new system is due to come into effect in 2022, meaning the funds have two years to bridge before they face more relaxed financial requirements.

Despite Koolmees’ willingness to reach an agreement on pension cuts, some funds will have to reduce payouts because their assets only amount to 90% of their obligations, the NRC said.

However, the risk that the big four funds, including the giant ABP civil service union, will have to make cuts will be removed when Koolmees makes his statement, the NRC said.



Woman armed with hammer and knife and shot by police has died

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The woman shot by police in Alkmaar on Wednesday after she charged at them with a knife and a hammer has died of her injuries in hospital.

The 48-year-old woman had been roaming the streets, armed with the knife and hammer and had smashed several windows when the police were alerted. One officer reportedly shot her after she refused to obey instructions and ran towards them.

The shooting, which took place close to a primary school, is being investigated by the public prosecution department. The woman is said to have caused problems for years.

‘We have made at least 200 reports,’ one neighbour told local broadcaster NH Nieuws.

A spokeswoman for the housing corporation which owned the property where the woman lived has confirmed she was visited by officials but declined to say what, if any, action was being taken because privacy concerns.




SINT MAARTEN/MIAMI, FL - Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services, is the main international sponsor of the 12th Annual Crystal Pineapple Awards Fundraising Gala. Organized by the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the event is scheduled for November 23 at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa. The awards gala honors excellence in the hospitality and trade sectors and is resuming its tradition after a two-year hiatus due to the 2017 hurricane season impact.

"We are pleased to recognize the outstanding individuals who work across a range of businesses and contribute to St. Maarten's vital tourism industry by demonstrating their commitment to exceptional hospitality," said Neil Kolton, Interval's director of business development for the Caribbean and Southeast U.S. "These professionals have helped drive the island's impressive recovery and demonstrate the resilience of the shared ownership industry in this beautiful location."

"We are grateful for Interval's support of our association and our members who work tirelessly to promote St. Maarten's tourism and business experience on the local and international stage. These collaborative efforts will continue to heighten the profile of the country's offerings as a destination to potential guests," said Wyb Meijer, executive director, SHTA.

As a board member of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Education Foundation and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Scholarship Foundation, Interval has been a long-time supporter of the tourism industry in the Caribbean. Since 2000, Interval and its participating Caribbean resort clients have donated approximately US$800,000 to the CHTA and CTO foundations for the education of Caribbean nationals.

About Interval International

Interval International operates membership programs for vacationers and provides value-added services to its developer clients worldwide. Based in Miami, Florida, the company has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market since 1976. Today, Interval's exchange network comprises more than 3,200 resorts in over 80 nations. Through offices in 14 countries, Interval offers high-quality products and benefits to resort clients and approximately 2 million families who are enrolled in various membership programs.


Dutch government to appeal against IS children repatriation ruling

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The cabinet is to appeal against a court ruling ordering the Netherlands to do all it can to bring back IS children from Syrian prison camps.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus and foreign minister Stef Blok told MPs on Tuesday that the ruling raises a number of issues ‘which may not have been considered sufficiently, including international relationships’.

By appealing, the cabinet hopes to gain clarity on these issues, the ministers said in a short letter to MPs. In the meantime, the government will start preparing to fulfill the court’s order to do its best to bring the children home, the ministers said.

Judges in The Hague said on Monday the Netherlands must ‘make all possible efforts’ to repatriate some 56 Dutch children in refugee camps in Northern Syria but is not required to bring back their mothers unless that is unavoidable.

The children ‘did not opt ​​for the caliphate, but now they have to deal with torture, abuse and lack of facilities’ the court said in its ruling, giving the Netherlands two weeks to make progress on the issue.

The US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has reiterated that the US is willing to help bring the children, and their mothers, back to the Netherlands. ‘If the Netherlands asks for American help with repatriating the women and children, then we will do all we can to make that possible,’ Hoekstra told broadcaster NOS.

The issue has divided the cabinet and both minister’s parties – the VVD and CDA – are opposed to bringing the children, most of whom are under the age of 6, back. ‘We don’t want these children back,’ VVD MP Dilan Yesilgoz said.

‘It is dangerous to bring these children back.’ CDA parliamentarian Madeleine van Toorenburg said on Twittert the verdict was full of risks. ‘The parents will have the right of return through the children,’ she said. ‘I think we should focus on the victims of the genocide.’


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