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WIB and SMDF donate towards children’s mental health

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Intervision Foundation’s mindfulness training for children is one of the most recent projects to benefit from an ongoing and fruitful partnership between the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and The Windward Islands Bank Ltd. (WIB). The 8-week mindfulness program is targeted towards children aged between 8 to 12 years old identified by local psychologists, general practitioners (GPs) and the care teams at local schools. Mindfulness training has been proven to be an effective mechanism for children who experience stress at home or who have behavioral/attention deficit issues, anxiety and/or depression.

After the disastrous impact of hurricane Irma in 2017, the number of mental health related issues have, unfortunately, been steadily increasing and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, there is much evidence of increased stress within families and in schools, which creates an additional negative impact on social and communal healthcare and wellbeing. According to Intervision, untreated mental health issues can lead to social aggravation, rigidity, the development of depression and anxiety disorders which in turn, results in the ultimate loss of a functional member of society.

While there has been increased attention for Mindfulness in schools internationally, the concept is still relatively unknown on St. Maarten. This project aims to help children develop healthy coping strategies where they develop resilience, positive attitudes, a better self-image, the ability to concentrate and greater self-awareness. The program will also involve parents in the process, in order for families to learn to live more consciously and change unhealthy habits.

“Over the past year and a half, SMDF has taken note of the lingering effects of Hurricane Irma coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s and parents’ mental health. With youth being one of our most vulnerable groups on St. Maarten in need of positive development into healthy adulthood, SMDF has recognized the need to support programs and projects targeted to this vulnerable group,” said Program and Development Manager Melanie Choisy of the SMDF.

Project Coordinator of the Mindfulness for Children Program Miranda Veltman expressed that “Intervision is grateful to receive funding to start the project of teaching mindfulness to children as this will help them develop life skills that will improve performance and better choices in life as they move forward.”

The program is slated to begin in January 2022 for a group of 15 participants. The grant to Intervision was made possible by The Windward Islands Bank Ltd. who in 2020 presented SMDF with a NAF 110,000 donation aimed at COVID-19 relief alongside their annual contribution towards social projects on St. Maarten.

For more information about SMDF, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website to learn more www.smdf.sx.

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Postal Services PSS NV to become hub for PostNL

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Following successful negotiations over the last few months with PostNL, Postal Services St. Maarten N.V. (PSS NV) will now function as a hub for mail transportation from the Netherlands (and vice versa) to the Caribbean Netherlands (BES Islands), specifically to the municipalities of Saba and St. Eustatius.

Interim Director of PSS N.V. Marinka Gumbs stated that she was extremely happy with the conclusion of the negotiations. She noted that this new venture truly underscores the importance and relevance of St. Maarten’s hub function and mail delivery during these times.

“We are truly honored for this opportunity afforded to us by PostNL. My team and I look forward to servicing the people of Saba and St. Eustatius,” the Interim Director stated.

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US leader Gordon-Carty: MP Arrindell’s departure lacked integrity

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Leader of the United St. Maarten (US) party Pamela Gordon Carty on Sunday said while she was not surprised by the declaraion by Member of Parliament (MP) Akeem Arrindell as an independent member of Parliament, she would have preferred that the MP used a more integer manner of walking away from the party “regardless of the reason that has been expressed.”

The US board had already earlier in the weekend stated that Arrindell’s “excuse” to Parliament and the public was void of the truth. No its party leader expressed her disappointment in the way Arrindell made his move and the fact that the electoral laws “allow or permits such unfortunate events to take place.”

She explained that MP Arrindell had spoken to her via phone the day after she was elected leader of the USP. “MP Akeem called me and expressed congratulatory wishes and was looking forward to work and move forward with me at the helm. I had expressed that he has my full support and I will work with him to the best of my abilities,” Gordon-Carty said.

“I also expressed that we will be working closely, and what he considered to be his shortcomings for me were not viewed as any impediment and that together we will work on it to make his tenure a successful one for all involved. I had conveyed to him that I would be arranging a meeting the following week with the board where both parties can update me on documents, convey their grievances to which we will sort things out together as a team.”

“It’s unfortunate that MP Akeem didn’t come back to me at least before conveying his decision to the public. I believe in communication, problem-solving at the table with mutual respect. I am convinced that this could have been handled differently if opportunity was given. Needless to say that it remains a fact that none of the departing parliamentarians received individually sufficient votes to have afforded them an outright seat that they claimed and walked away with. But in all honesty, I wish both MP’s much of success in their political careers,” she said.

The US leader reiterated that the party has laid out its road map of being for the people, with the people and by the people whether in or out of government. “We will be focusing more and more on the overall well-being of the population and try to balance out the best moves to reflect this. Our goal is for the population to actually feel some of the pressure of challenging times being alleviated by the different projects that we will be executing. We will remain focus on the well-being of the people,” she concluded.

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Princess Beatrix tests positive for coronavirus

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The former Dutch queen Beatrix has tested positive for coronavirus after suffering mild cold symptoms, the state information service RVD has confirmed.

Beatrix, who is known as princess since abdicating in 2013 in favour of her son Willem-Alexander, is at home and is following the rules for people who have tested positive for the virus, the RVD said.

Beatrix, 83, was in Curacao last week for a working visit and told local health officials that she had already been given the booster vaccination. The positive test result means the former queen will miss the birthday celebrations for her oldest granddaughter and crown princess Amalia, who turns 18 on Tuesday.

(DutchNews)

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2021 Saba Day celebration sparks positivity

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The people of Saba, dignitaries and invited guests came together for the official ceremony on Friday, December 3 for Saba Day 2021. It was an event of positivity where gratitude was expressed for keeping the island safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 hurricane season, and Saba’s successes were celebrated.

After the customary hoisting of the Saba flag and the singing of the national anthem and the Flag Song in front of the Government Administration Building in The Bottom, people walked to the Juliana’s Sports Field for an ecumenical service with praise, prayer and song. MC Elsa Peterson opened the official ceremony and welcomed everyone to the 46th annual Saba Day celebration with as theme: “Adopting a positive mindset amidst a changing world.”

Winner of the primary school poetry contest, Sacred Heart School student Nevaeh Peterson, got a big applause for reading her poem about a great Saba tradition, fishing, and preparing the catch afterwards. Winner of the secondary school poetry contest Sab Comprehensive School student Trevon Johnson presented his poem about being a Saba boy, getting pig meat to make the best red pea soup, a traditional Saban dish, and remaining positive.

Accept changes

Commissioner of Culture Rolando Wilson reflected on this year’s theme. “A positive mindset in a changing world might seem a difficult topic, but it simply means that we as a people have to acknowledge and accept that changes are here and more will be coming. We have to prepare ourselves if we are to overcome and survive in this changing world. We must have a strong voice in contributing to what is happening to our island and we must have a positive mindset in how we handle our affairs,” he said.

Wilson looked back at what he called a “remarkable year” in the middle of a pandemic. “We have much to give God thanks for. Most of our people were kept safe and spared from this deadly virus. Our economy remained intact for a great part, people did not lose their jobs and businesses were able to survive. This could not have been possible without the financial assistance from the Dutch Government which allowed local government to assist businesses to offset the losses. It also enabled us to carry ou8t a number of social and infrastructural projects.”

Wilson reminded the people that the pandemic was still ongoing. “We are not out of the woods and we should not drop our guards. The pandemic is still a reality and can impact us any time. With the new variant, we must keep attention and adhere to the established protocols. As we look forward to the year ahead, let us do so with bold confidence and much optimism. Each of us has a role to lay in our island’s development. This can only be achieved through hard work and togetherness form each one of us. As we move forward, let us collectively work along with our sister islands and the Dutch counterparts to further improve our relations.”  

Find balance

Commissioner of General Affairs Bruce Zagers said that while many of Saba’s successes could be directly traced to the decisions, work ethic, mindset and forward-thinking attitude of Saba’s ancestors, and it was important to preserve the local culture and heritage, it was also vital to find a balance where there is room for development in both the social and physical domains.

Change is a given, but not all change has been good, said Zagers, who mentioned the high cost of living and increased poverty since Saba’s transition to a Dutch public entity status in 2010. “Families that earn wages below a livable standard, and we know there is poverty, albeit for the most part it is hidden. We can relate to an economy that barely recovered from the hurricanes of 2017, only to be hit three years later with a complete shutdown. We feel the consequences of a free allowance which is too low and is negatively impacting services provided by government. We are challenged by bureaucratic systems, inadequate banking opportunities and the feeling that too often decisions are being made about us but not with us.”

But the change has also brought many positive things which has provided growth and opportunities for Saba and its people, said Zagers. Projects such as the new fire station, a solar park, agriculture initiatives, a remodeled tourist office, a botanical garden, a new hotel that will open shortly, the Saba Splash Bottling Plant, the eventual expansion of the school buildings, the planned upgrades at the Johan Cruijf Court, the second phase of social housing Under the Hill, the planned expansion of the elderly home and the new harbor project which will start in the later part of next year.

Zagers gave credit to the Public Health Department and its vaccination campaign which put Saba on the map for probably having the highest vaccination rate in the world, government’s financial management team that continues to produce at a very high level, the Saba Conservation Foundation which is also involved in research projects and spearheading a marine lab, and the BES(t)4Kids program which continues to invest in teachers and caregivers.

Act with love

Island Governor Jonathan Johnson said that change and transitions, even though difficult, were part of the process of life. “The most repeated phrase in the Bible is ‘Be not afraid.’ This does not mean that we should carelessly and recklessly go through life, but we must act with love,” he said, emphasizing the importance of loving one another.

Johnson expressed concerns about bullying at schools and in society, and people acting adversely towards other. “The primary language of children is behavior, not words. That is why we as adults must model good behavior. Scolding children teaches them how to scold. By showing them to understand, we teach them to understand. By helping them, we teach them to help. We have to care about other people’s children. We have to care about everyone. Because eventually, the cost of our callousness will be borne by our children.”

Six Sabans received a community award for their dedication and hard work: teacher Constance Clement, retired Public Works employee Wycliffe Rawlins, teacher Elka Charles-Simmons, retired school bus driver James Bennett “Benny” Johnson, retired school bus and taxi driver Gloria Robinson-Levenston and retired taxi driver and entrepreneur Eddison Peterson.

Friday’s official ceremony included performances by grade 2 and 6 primary school students, a cultural display by students and dance by children of Child Focus. The well-attended event was closed off with a toast and a public reception with food, cake and drinks. Afterwards, people visited the many booths on Matthew Levenstone Street in The Bottom. Festivities will continue throughout the weekend.

Hoisting of the flag 01

Hoisting of the flag 03

Saba Day 2021 with hoisted flag

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Funding model in development for ECD Sector and Safety Nets

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - A funding model for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Sector (children 4 weeks to 4 years) and Safety Nets (afterschool programmes) is being investigated and developed with key stakeholders and professionals.

The Department of Youth, MECYS, in its efforts to strengthen both the ECD sector and Safety Nets, requested technical assistance from UNICEF the Netherlands to develop a sustainable and equitable funding model that would promote inclusion and equity to these services for more children.

As part of this activity, Public Finance Expert Mr. Elinor Bajraktari will be on Sint Maarten from November 29th to December 10th, to conduct a series of interviews and field visits with stakeholders from the ECD Sector, Safety Nets, funding agencies and relevant government departments in the ministries of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS), Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA), and Finance.

The funding model will propose options to increase public sector support for ECD centres and afterschool programmes through subsidies to the private sector. The funding model could also include a tuition waiver system for vulnerable students and targeting mechanisms such as paying specific attention to gender disparities and disabilities. The models proposed must meet the requirement of being evidence-based, cost-effective, sustainable and predictable.

Additionally, Mr. Bajraktari will work on the development and operationalization of a data collection strategy for the systematic collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on ECD and Safety Nets on Sint Maarten.

The development of the proposal for this funding model is part of the 'Child Resilience and Protection Project’ (CRPP). The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS), with technical support from UNICEF the Netherlands, is executing the CRPP, a multi-faceted approach to building child resilience and strengthening the systems and institutions for child protection. The project is funded by the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust-fund, managed by the World Bank.

Persons can also share their feedback directly via online surveys until Wednesday, December 15th 2021:

The information collected will be used to formulate the proposal for potential funding model options.

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Gasoline and Diesel Prices to be adjusted downward on Friday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Friday, December 3rd, fuel pump prices will be adjusted for gasoline and diesel. 

The current price of unleaded gasoline is Naf.2.324 per liter, will be adjusted to the new price of Naf.2.298 per liter.

The current price of diesel is Naf.1.873 per liter, will be adjusted to the new price of Naf.1.821 per liter.

The Government of Sint Maarten regulates the prices of petroleum products by imposing a maximum price at which wholesalers and retailers can sell these products in the country to motorists.

At the international level, the prices of crude oil have experienced adjustments and local prices follow the international trend, and therefore prices are adjusted to reflect this. 

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This Holiday Season: Shop Smart, Shop Safe

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Every year the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), as part of its annual calendar of observances, highlights and creates awareness about safe holiday experiences for the entire family.

The 2021 holiday season is here, and CPS advises to shoppers to adhere to the current public health and safety measures that are in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mask should be worn over your nose and mouth and should be properly secured under your chin. Wearing a mask correctly offers protection to you and those around you, in case you are unknowingly infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Maintain a safe distance of two meters (six feet) from others especially persons who are at a higher risk of getting very sick; wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol content; cover coughs and sneezes, and wash or clean your hands after every episode.  

One of the key points this holiday season should be to make sure that whatever gift you buy for a child this year’s holiday season, make sure that it's safe – Shop Smart, Shop Safe. Check the safety information of toys before you purchase them.

Before purchasing or giving any gift, particularly any intended for a child, double check to make sure the gifts do not pose a hazard or put the child at risk of danger. Carefully read the safety instructions and conditions attached to the gift and ensure that it is age appropriate.

Here are some safety tips for holiday season shopping: select toys suitable for a child's age, abilities, skills, and interest level; for infants, toddlers, and all small children, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard.

Avoid toys with sharp edges and points, especially for children under age eight; read the labels that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide in your holiday shopping.

Magnets — For children under age six, avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

Small Parts — For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

Ride-on Toys — Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should always be sized to fit and worn when operating the aforementioned. Help instil safety discipline.

Projectile Toys — Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and sling shots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.

Chargers and Adapters — Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

One of the most important gifts of all to give a child is time spent with you as a parent/guardian this holiday season. As we prepare to celebrate the holidays during this pandemic, let us be mindful and stay close to home with immediate family and limit interactions in small social/family bubbles.

Continue to make use of virtual celebrations, let us collectively work on ensuring a safe and healthy society as 2021 comes to an end.

Shop Smart, Shop in a Safe and Healthy manner observing all preventive measures including COVID-19. Let us together celebrate the holidays safely and protecting others.

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Free Rapid HIV Testing in Cole Bay

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA) in collaboration with the St. Maarten Aids Foundation and the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) offered free & confidential HIV testing at the Cole Bay Community Help Desk on Saturday November 27, 2021, from 10am to 3pm.

Scores of persons visited the Community Help Desk and took advantage of the opportunity to know their HIV status, which involved a quick health screening and simple finger prick to take blood.

The results were provided within 10 minutes or less. Visitors also received free condoms and advice and information on sexual health and practices. The free and confidential HIV testing is one of many initiatives that CDFHA is hosting during the month of December in recognition of World AIDS Day celebrated on December 1, 2021, with the theme “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility.”

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December 1 World AIDS Day: End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – World AIDS Day is observed each year on December 1st. The theme is: “End inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally to confront the inequalities that drive AIDS and to reach people who are currently not receiving essential HIV services.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), includes World AIDS Day as part of its calendar of annual observances.

The internationally observed day provides an opportunity to raise awareness, educate and improve a greater understanding of HIV as a global public health issue.

CPS is calling on members of the community to wear a red shirt/blouse from Wednesday up to and including Friday and light a candle to commemorate World AIDS Day.

At the end of 2020, approximately 38 million people globally were living with HIV, with 1.5 million newly infected that year, and approximately 680,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Global HIV Discrimination in the World of Work Survey.

Most people living with HIV lead long and healthy lives thanks to effective ways to manage the infection. However, people, particularly younger generations should be aware and obtain skills to access HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care, according to the WHO.

CPS encourages the community to educate and inform themselves about the latest developments related to AIDS and HIV. It is also important for the community to be supportive and not discriminate against persons living with HIV AIDS or any other diseases. 

AIDS HIV INS1

 

 

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