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COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS INVITED TO SXM DOET 2021 INFO SESSION

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - SXM DOET is inviting community-based organizations to learn more about the annual SXM DOET volunteer event, which will take place on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13, 2021. The SXM DOET Project Management Team; Melanie Choisy & Laura Bijnsdorp, will host a brief virtual info-session on Wednesday, December 2 from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm.

The info-session will give organizations insight on how to participate and register a project, new covid-19 regulations, and other plans for SXM DOET 2021. Individuals who are interested in hosting a community project are also invited to join the info-session but will need to team up with a registered organization to apply for funding.
Those that would like to attend the virtual info-session on December 2 are asked to send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (before December 1)

“This has been a challenging year for everyone. We want to continue the positive impact of SXM Doet in 2021 while making safety our priority. All projects and participants will have to follow covid/government regulations. We will also provide projects with needed safety materials such as masks and sanitizer,” said Melanie Choisy, President of the Be The Change Foundation which hosts the event locally in conjunction with the Oranje Fonds in the Netherlands.

Foundations, schools, associations, sports teams, clubs, church and youth groups are all encouraged to participate in SXM DOET 2021 by either hosting a project themselves or by signing up to volunteer. Organizations and volunteers can register via SXM DOET’s online platform: www.sxmdoet.com.

For more information and to RSVP for the info-session, please contact SXM DOET at via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1721 554 7573

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Prime Minister Jacobs meets with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Blok

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok arrived in St. Maarten on Sunday afternoon for a working visit. During his short stay, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs managed to have an informal pre-meeting with Minister Blok on Sunday evening where they discussed several matters, some of which falls within the purview of Minister Blok, other matters concerning St. Maarten’s recovery since 2017, as well as government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a great opportunity for Prime Minister Jacobs to highlight the importance of the working relationship between the government of St. Maarten and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Prime Minister Jacobs also met with Minister Blok together with Préfet Sylvie Feucher this morning to discuss French-Dutch relations. Prime Minister Jacobs stated that quadripartite meeting remains one of the best mechanisms by which St. Maarten manages its relations with the French. “It is important to find a solution where the border closures are concerned so that we may continue to manage the coexistence of our two sides on this island in times of emergencies and crises,” she continued.

“While I understand and appreciate the right of a state to protect its citizens, St. Maarten is truly unique in the sense that on such a small island, two nations coexist. Consequently, the relationships not only familial, but also economic are highly interlinked and interdependent. As such, formal agreements must exist between both governments whereby despite difference in nationality, status and constitution the two sides can protect the people and ensure their livelihoods,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.

A kingdom consultation meeting on foreign affairs is scheduled to take place tomorrow Tuesday, November 24, together with the Prime Ministers of St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba and Minister Blok.

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In memory of Paul Hoetjes, a legend in nature conservation

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - It is with great and profound sadness that we have to say good-bye to Paul Hoetjes, a legend in nature conservation in the Dutch Caribbean and cofounder of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), the DCNA said on Monday in a statement. Paul Hoetjes passed away on the 13th of November 2020. 

Paul’s passing was a shock for his loved-ones with many of them being part of the Dutch Caribbean nature conservation world. Paul was known as a gentle, kindhearted gentleman who provided a great contribution to many regional nature conservation initiatives, particularly in the field of coral reefs, sea turtles and marine mammals. He was a mentor to many, who greatly benefited from his insights, advices and support over the years. 

Paul moved to Curaçao from Indonesia with his family as a young child. He gained a biology degree at University of Amsterdam (UvA) and became active in coral reef conservation shortly after returning to Curaçao to work in the island’s sea aquarium. 

Paul retired in the beginning of 2020 after a twenty-year career as nature policy coordinator in the Dutch Caribbean, working for the Central Government of the Netherlands Antilles out of Curaçao from 1998 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2020 for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), stationed on Bonaire, working for the Caribbean Netherlands. During these years he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of national nature policy for the islands, embodied in the Nature Policy of the Netherlands Antilles 2000-2005, the Nature and Environment Policy Plan of the Netherlands Antilles 2004-2007, the Nature Policy Plan for the Caribbean Netherlands 2013-2017 and lastly the Nature and Environment Policy Plan for the Caribbean Netherlands 2020-2030. 

Paul was involved in many conservation initiatives. He was amongst others central in creation of the DCNA in 2005, a regional network of protected areas set up to help and assist the park management organizations on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. Paul contributed in countless ways to environmental policy, education, management and establishment of protected areas in the Dutch Caribbean. Some of Paul’s many achievements were the formation of the Marine Mammal Protected Areas Network and the designation of the Saba Bank as an internationally recognized marine protected area, the establishment of the Yarari Sanctuary for marine mammals & sharks in the waters of the Caribbean Netherlands and the Mount Scenery National Park. 

Paul was actively involved in various regional and international multilateral environmental agreements, such as a delegate to the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol, the Inter-American Convention for the protection of Sea Turtles (IAC), the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network Caribbean Initiative (GCRMNCaribbean).

Paul’s great expertise, dedication to conservation and continuous efforts to promote co-operation for the benefit of nature and society made him contributory to the state of nature and conservation in the region. 

The DCNA expresses their deepest condolences to Paul’s family, friends and colleagues. “Paul Hoetjes will be remembered and sorely missed. We sincerely thank him for his kindness and valuable contribution in safeguarding nature for generations to come within the Dutch Caribbean.” Tadzio Bervoets, Director DCNA

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DECEMBER INCOME & UNEMPLOYMENT SUPPORT DEADLINE IS DEC. 5

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of Finance would like to remind you to apply to the Income Support for Sole Proprietors, Vendor License Holders, Bus and Independent Taxi and Tour Drivers and COVID-19 Unemployment Support. Both programs disburse ANG. 1,150 per month to approved individuals. In order to receive continued financial assistance, applicants must send in a support request monthly through the online portal each month.

If you are applying for Income Support for the first time, you will need to create an online account. To do this, applicants must:

  • Complete the Income Support Application Form.
  • Upload a copy of a valid Sint Maarten issued ID or Dutch passport (expired no longer than six (6) months).
  • Upload a copy of a valid copy of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry registration, this is only required from sole proprietors (excerpt cannot be older than 6 months);
  • Upload a copy of a valid (or not expired longer than 6 months as of the date application) vending permit (of any kind), bus or taxi license
  • Upload a copy of the 2019 Income Tax Return, stamped by the Tax Inspectorate.

If you are applying for Unemployment Support for the first time, you will need to create an online account. To do this, applicants must:

  • Complete the COVID-19 Unemployment Support Application Online Form;
  • Upload a copy of a valid Sint Maarten issued ID or Dutch passport (expired no longer than six (6) months).
  • Upload a Letter of Termination or Dismissal (on Company letterhead with authorized signature and Company Stamp);
  • Upload a copy of the applicant’s last pay slip (from a payroll system with the Company’s name clearly visible)


Applicants with existing online accounts should log in to their portal and choose the month they wish to receive support for. Applicants should receive a confirmation e-mail indicating that their request was successfully submitted. 

All information and updates can be found on the official SSRP website. The SSRP website can be accessed at www.ssrp.sx. Please note that the deadline for December will be on Saturday December 5th, 2020. 

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Minister of Justice Richardson and Unions engage in productive dialogue

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Friday, November 20th, 2020, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson hosted a meeting with Unions representing members within law enforcement to discuss various pressing matters, the cabinet of the Minister of Justice announced on Sunday evening in a media statement.

After receiving word that the Unions were in a space of uncertainty regarding various issues, Minister Richardson on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 sent an email invitation to NAPB, ABVO, WICSU/PSU Unions to attend a meeting and asked that the latter also submit an agenda of items they needed clarification and/or action taken on.

The Unions readily accepted the invitation and provided the agenda which included clarification with respect to  the function book process, information about the Immigration Division of KPSM that falls under KPSM, overtime policy, personnel capacity, work materials, future plans for KPSM (especially in education, and training upgrades, etc.) and the policy governing sick leave.

With matters related to the development and progress of the highly anticipated completion of the Function Books, policy advisor to Minister Richardson, Ms. Tiffany Glascow gave a detailed presentation that outlined the role of the Steering Committee and the Work Group that together make up the Project Group installed to complete the Function books. During the discussions, Minister Richardson also invited Mr. Luud Hakkens, lead of the Work Group, to give additional elucidations on matters related to the process of finalizing the function books.

The Unions were advised that the internal handling of the Function books was near completion and that the CCSU will be provided with the Function books within the coming weeks. Thereafter, the Unions then get six (6) weeks to review and render their suggestions and advice.  

The Unions then inquired about the Function Book and Salary scales of KPSM that were submitted to the Council of Advice after being approved by the CCSU and requested confirmation about the Immigration Division that falls under KPSM being transferred to the Immigration Department.

Minister Richardson stated that confirmation about the possible transfer of the Immigration Division and the advice that has been rendered from the Council of Advice pertaining to the Function Book and Salary Scales of KPSM, must first be discussed with the Chief of Police Carl John , Thereafter, the Unions will be invited for a follow up discussion where they will receive this information.

As it pertains to the overtime policy, Minister Richardson provided clarity to the Unions regarding the laws that govern overtime and clarified a misunderstanding due to misinterpretation related to said policy. Minister Richardson was also made aware of a change in payment from 4.00 NAF to 0.40 NAF cents for ‘dark hour payments’ to law enforcement. The Unions were requested to submit an official letter to the Minister for further handling.

The Unions also expressed their concerns about the current limited personnel capacity. . Minister Richardson queried if this was possibly the result of a high volume of persons out on sick leave. The minister  stated that evaluations would be conducted to analyze the situation of officers to ascertain if some might be eligible for early pension or if some are perhaps experiencing what is known as ‘burn-out’ in their current functions.

Minister Richardson shared her intentions related to educational and training courses for the upgrading of law enforcement officers. When asked about the Ministry's plans for upgrading, she said, "The Justice Academy that was established in the past was a good initiative, however, it was never fully accredited and as a result, officers’ qualifications are often questioned. As such, establishing an accredited institution for all law enforcement officers is currently being researched".

The Unions conveyed their concerns about their working environment, and the state of vehicles being used by officers. Minister Richardson indicated that she is aware of the building not being up to par, which was revealed to her during a recent visit to the police station. The Minister personally witnessed water dripping from the ceilings into buckets, and had her policy advisor take photos, which will be submitted to the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) with a request for  further information regarding the repairs as it is responsible for the implementation and evaluation of this particular project.

On the topic of vehicles and the poor maintenance thereof, this seems to be a result of lack of structural funding and/or mismanagement of funds. As an example, Minster Richardson pointed out that the Ministry has recently received particularly high invoices for food and beverage consumed by law enforcement during the COVID19 crisis whereby if more cost-conscious decisions were taken, a portion of these monies could have been saved and allocated to for example the maintenance of vehicles.

Minister Richardson disclosed  that the Ministry is currently exploring  various ways to generate additional funds by e.g. means of increasing the fee schedule and/or collecting long outstanding fines, as this alone would help the Ministry  cover a portion of its costs.

The fruitful meeting concluded after two and a half hours. Minister Richardson ended by conveying her appreciation to the Unions once again for their professionalism and looks forward to developing a better working relationship.

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SOAB TRANSITION INTO TOMORROW LEAD BY NEW TEAM OF DIRECTORS

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Stichting Overheidsaccountantsbureau (SOAB) recently introduced its team of directors that will lead the process of SOAB transitioning into tomorrow. Drs. Raymond Faneyte (General Director), Drs. Renata Sandriman RA (Director Assurance), Drs. Hardy Huisden (Director Advisory), Drs. Candia Joseph RO EMIA (Director Sint Maarten) will head our team of seasoned and well-rounded professionals, as SOAB continues to contribute to the welfare of the communities SOAB serves, by giving assurance and advisory to their governments and civil servants.

Drs. Raymond Faneyte RA CFE CICA, General Director, has recently accepted the honor of succeeding Mr. Geomaly Martes, who has led SOAB over the past 25 years. For more than a decade Raymond Faneyte has made his mark by contributing with the developments within SOAB, which has steered the organization forward. His professional experience in auditing, assurance and advisory for governments, public sector and private sector entities in the Dutch Caribbean and the results he has obtained, have formed him into the right person to take on this leadership role. In addition, his ‘belief in trustworthiness and honesty’, his integrity and being a thorough professional are exemplary core values which Raymond displays in his interactions with both clients and colleagues.

Drs. Renata Sandriman RA, Director Assurance, is a chartered accountant and committed professional with extensive experience in managing a wide variety of assignments for the government and government-related institutions in the Dutch Caribbean. For her, integrity, quality and result-orientation are paramount. Her flexibility is reflected in the diversity of assignments she carries out and her ability to quickly interact with clients at different levels. Offering added value to the customer is important to her.

Drs. Hardy Huisden, Director Advisory, started his career in sales and management positions at companies in the Netherlands such as Randstad Uitzendbureau and KPN. As the SOAB Director Advisory he leads the internal organizational operations. In addition, he is responsible for the acquisition and realization of Advisory and Support assignments for various governmental clients within the Dutch Caribbean and Suriname. Hardy aims to always be one step ahead in order to be able to serve his clients’ ever-changing needs and does so with his team. Serving through creativity, innovation and timeliness is his credo, as he believes “The customer’s perception is your reality” (Kate Zabriskie).

Drs. Candia Joseph RO EMIA, Director St. Maarten, is a registered Operational Auditor, and as such, is characterized by her focus on ensuring that an organization remains ‘in control’ and organized in a manner that guarantees the achievement of their goals and objectives. This is done through a combination of assurance, advisory and support assignments. Given the geographic location and distinct characteristics of the SSS-islands within the Dutch Caribbean, the position of Director St. Maarten was added to the team.

Candia is responsible for the St. Maarten sector of SOAB with regards to the clients, engagements, stakeholders and performance of the office. Candia is customer focused and engaged, and is dedicated to achieving results that are of added value to our clients.

SOAB is renowned for its team of professionals with extensive knowledge within the industry and government with a track record in experience within the public sector in the Dutch Caribbean. SOAB remains leading in terms of knowledge of Government and an authority on public governance.

Pic 1 SOAB Cur Directors Transition

From left to right Raymond Faneyte, Renata Sandriman and Hardy Huisden

 

 

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“Barking up the wrong tree” says MP Wescot-Williams to the Prime Minister

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In a letter dated November, the Prime Minister of St. Maarten apprised parliament of her most recent contact with State Secretary Knops regarding the continued liquidity support in the form of a third tranche. This interaction took place on November 11TH, as per the prime minister’s letter, Member of Parliament (MP) and Leader of the United Democrats (UD) Sarah Wescot Williams said in a press statement on Sunday.

“I was pleasantly surprised to receive this update, given government’s lackluster performance in keeping parliament timely informed. However, the conclusion of the letter gives away the true reason behind this letter to parliament. Although the Prime Minister had earlier publicly alluded to her meeting with the State Secretary, she had not expressed the concerns of the Dutch government publicly. These concerns the PM did however relay by letter to the parliament of St. Maarten.

The paragraph in question to parliament reads: “there has been much hesitation on the part of The Netherlands pertaining to how serious the negotiations are on our side, because of statements made on the floor of parliament about the decolonization process. However, I am assured that the progress made in the last two technical meetings has done much to ease their fears. That being said, it is important for all parties to be mindful of the aforementioned as we negotiate the best possible outcome in the interest of the people of St. Maarten.”

This admonishment was quite surprising giving government’s own role in the decolonization talks. “I had to remind the PM of her letter to parliament dated October 6, in response to MP Heyliger-Marten’s questions on the topic of decolonization.”

In that letter the PM informed parliament after an analysis of decolonization, that… “based on the above, I am of the opinion that finalizing the decolonization can and should be started as soon as possible. It will both benefit the international reputation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and therefore St. Maarten and its sister islands and allow for the sustainable social-economic development and prosperity of the people of St. Maarten. Seeing the initiatives by MP Heyliger-Marten, I therefore look forward to Parliament’s follow-up and support to the Council of Ministers with this process.”

Now, to assuage the concerns of Mr. Knops and secure Dutch liquidity assistance, the PM asks that parliament restrains its “chatter” regarding decolonization. The PM did not articulate a government’s change of heart regarding pursuing decolonization, as extensively outlined in her previous 10-page letter to parliament. In fact, the Prime Minister informed parliament that the delay in responding to the MP was due to extensive research on the matter.

I had to ask the PM in response to her letter to parliament about parliament’s handling of the topic of decolonization, whether she had informed Mr. Knops of her findings, as elaborated on in her letter to parliament in response to the questions by MP Heyliger.

Given the PM’s boasting on the topic of decolonization, I want to know if she informed the State Secretary that the government of St. Maarten is in support of a Parliament motion that amongst other things endorses a foundation that took the State of the Netherlands to Court and that has petitioned the UN to lobby on St. Maarten’s behalf.

“Madam Prime Minister, in my view, it is objectionable to ask that the parliament, the country’s representative body, -now that State Secretary Knops has expressed hesitation with the liquidity assistance- practices restraint in their utterances regarding decolonization after the (coalition) majority in parliament expressed in no uncertain terms this governing coalition’s stance on decolonization.”

Did you not foresee that? Did you not discuss this with the factions supporting the government of St. Maarten?”

The latest letter from the Prime Minister makes one wonder what the government is really busy with. Was this public support for decolonization at the time, only to keep coalition members happy? Or is the letter to parliament regarding Knops’ concerns, one to put the blame at parliament’s door if the decolonization chatter gets in the way of liquidity assistance from the Netherlands?

For the record, the UD faction voted against the infamous decolonization motion. Also for the record, the UD was not in a favor of a permanent committee for decolonization as proposed, and the name of the committee was subsequently changed.

The following questions have been sent to the Prime Minister in response to her letters to parliament.

Are you aware of parliament’s motion dated November 5th, endorsing … “the initiative and legal actions of Foundation Pro Soualiga related to the decolonization of the former Netherlands Antilles, as well as the private initiative in Curacao with a comparable objective”?

Are you aware of the petition by aforementioned foundation to the UN that requests that “the Secretary General of the United Nations honors its commitment to the people of the (former) Netherlands Antilles and schedules hearing with the foundation along with our sister island Curaçao where we can together present our case against the Government of the Netherlands and urges the General Assembly to take action in order for the islands of the ( former) Netherlands Antilles to meet the deadline set in UN Resolution 74/113 and complete their decolonization before December 31, 2020.”

Do you condone a none-government foundation representing the Country St. Maarten at a UN hearing? Has the government of St. Maarten mandated this foundation in any form or fashion?

Has, according to your knowledge, the motion of parliament dated November 5, 2020 been received by the government of the Netherlands?

Are you still as supportive of this motion as you were in the days leading up to the meeting and subsequent passing of the motion?

Have you shared your “extensive” findings regarding decolonization with the State Secretary?

What were the State Secretary’s specific concerns with parliament’s statements regarding decolonization? How did you “ease their fears”?

Can you ask the State Secretary to clarify the position of the Netherlands regarding decolonization?

How do you view the attainment of an “independent state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands” as expressed by those in favor of the decolonization of St. Maarten?

Did you explain to the State Secretary the position indirectly endorsed by the government of St. Maarten to amend the Kingdom charter and delete the articles 43, 50, 51 etc.?

What was the response of the State Secretary? Was he found amenable to these ideas?

“In closing, Madam Prime Minister, it is disturbing that you would entertain concerns by the State Secretary and put the responsibility for the decolonization chatter squarely at the door of parliament, when the government of St. Maarten has been more than a willing and participating partner in these discussions. The least that can be expected, is that the government levels with the Dutch government and bears the responsibilities for its own actions and views and re-sets its priorities based on the people’s interests.”

“I also expect you to present government’s position on our current status and government’s view regarding same going forward in clear and unambiguous terms to the people of St. Maarten. This uncoordinated, free-for-all, hot-cold approach to a topic that involves our future can not continue.”

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Five years Kingdom Taskforce conference on Children’s Rights

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The youth experts of the countries and the public entities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands will meet again next week. During this jubilee conference the milestones that have been achieved over the past five years will be discussed and commented upon.

The Taskforce will also be looking ahead to see how it can create a framework for the near future. A future in which all children within the Kingdom can develop healthily, safely and fulfil a promising future.

In this extraordinary time of COVID-19, the educational conference nevertheless strives to continue. The Kingdom Taskforce on Children's Rights has decided to organise this 5th annual conference digitally. It is important that the professionals in this area stay informed of new developments and that the countries and islands can work on their future plans.

During the conference, which will take place on November 24 and 25 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, there are two main topics that form the unifying theme during: monitoring & evaluation and the social impact of COVID-19 on children.

The themes are presented through the use of an interactive digital broadcast. Children’s rights professionals will share experiences and research results with regard to the main topics. For the future, the Kingdom Taskforce on Children's Rights will focus, among other things, on collaboration and knowledge exchange in the Kingdom, with respect to children's rights.

The Taskforce is working hard on a digital knowledge platform for professionals. With this platform the Taskforce provides a clear direction to the next step towards professionalization regarding positive parenting and combating violence in educating, among others.

For more information and to participate, please register at: ttps://www.ourchildrenourfuture.nl/en/

Foto conferentie 2019 SXM en SAB

Taskforce conference 2019 in Sint Maarten.

 

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MP Roumou to help SXM Young Ambassador Samtani on Climate Change Awareness

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Promoting Young Ambassadors Foundation (SMPYA) and the Ministry Of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport’s, Department of Youth Affairs will be hosting its annual “Rights of the Child” movie night entitled “I AM GRETA”.

Member of Parliament, Angelique Romou, founder of the SMPYA foundation was approached by Ms. Riddhi Samtani, one of St. Maarten’s Youth Advocates and newly inducted SXM Young Ambassador to assist her with her project on the effects of Climate Change in Small Island states.

The SMPYA foundation jumped at the opportunity to help to bring about awareness to such a worthy cause which gravely affects St. Maarten and decided to collaborate with, Ms. Riddhi Samtani and together decided to utilize the SMPYA’s Rights of the child Movie night to bring about this much needed awareness.       

Ms. Riddhi Samtani has embodied steadfast dedication to the issues of climate change in small islands professionally and academically. Most recently she represented St. Maarten as a TEDx speaker on this very topic. In every crisis, children are the most vulnerable. Climate change is no exception. For this reason, the movie selected to air this year is titled,I AM GRETA”

This year the foundation is dedicating the “Ready, Set, Protect” theme of the Department of Youth Affaires to protecting the rights of children in the face of the climate crisis. This theme goes hand in hand with the Human Rights Council’s 44th session, 2020 annual day on the rights of the child which was held in July of this year under the theme “Realizing the rights of the child through a healthy environment”.  

The Rights of the child Movie event will be held on Friday the 4th of December 2020 at the Philipsburg Cultural Center, located on the Backstreet and it starts at 4:30 pm to 7 pm.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the invitation is only extended to a limited amount of secondary school students who will have to sign up at their respective schools and will be accepted on a first-come first serve basis once they register via the sign-up sheet. All participants must register by Friday the 27th of November 2020. All attendees are informed of the Covid-19 protocols which will be strictly enforced, everyone must wear a mask and social distancing will be implemented.

Those who participate in this event will be extended the invitation to become a SXM Young Ambassador with the SMPYA foundation and will receive a certificate of participation at the end of the presentation. 

In an invited comment Member of parliament Angelique Romou wished every child on this the 20th of November 2020 a Happy Rights of the Child Day and encourages all children to seek   knowledge about their rights to be protected and to have a safe environment. She also reminded everyone how The Rights of The Child Convention came about and quoted UNICEF;

“In 1989 something incredible happened. Against the backdrop of a changing world order world leaders came together and made a historic commitment to the world’s children. They made a promise to every child to protect and fulfil their rights, by adopting an international legal framework – the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Contained in this treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights. The Convention says childhood is separate from adulthood, and lasts until 18; it is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.”

The Convention has since went on to become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives.

The SMPYA Foundation hopes that this collaborative effort will be the continuation of bringing awareness to environmental safety and that by the airing of this movie “I AM GRETA” , more young people will be inspired to join the fight to protect themselves and the lives of others through a safer environment.

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Resources 4 Community Resilience launches US$452K in local projects

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Resources 4 Community Resilience (R4CR) project was officially launched during a Zoom meeting and Facebook livestream on Wednesday November 18.

The ceremony was hosted by radio personality Kevin “Suppa” Petrona (who is also the local R4CR Communication and Outreach expert) and Jose Sommers (R4CR Capacity and Training Manager).

The R4CR program is a grant scheme that focuses exclusively on financing and strengthening local Civil Society Organization (CSO’s). The program is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the St. Maarten Trust Fund. The latter is administered by the World Bank, implemented by the NRPB (National Recovery Program Bureau) and executed by the VNGI (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten International) in close cooperation with the NRPB, Foresee Foundation and other local partners.

Leading the small cast of speakers at the event was Chris Johnson, Dutch Representative in Philipsburg, who commended the CSO’s (also known as NGO’s) on their remarkable resilience for helping people during difficult times. He fondly recalled the tireless work of the late Cassandra Gibbs and what her I Can Foundation did for children in need. “On behalf of the Netherlands we are very happy that the R4CR program is taking place and congratulate the NGO’s who received a grant to execute their project” Johnson stated.

“We here at the NRPB are proud to be a part of the R4CR launch,” Director of the NRPB, Claret Connor, said. “R4CR directly supports Civil Society Organizations by funding local initiatives. The project will allow these CSOs to continue their commitment in tackling poverty, championing environmental protection, taking care of the elderly, investing in daycare and after school programs, violence prevention, and much more.” Claret Connor is also chairperson of the Project Technical Committee which is an independent body in charge of vetting R4CR grant projects to ensure compliance with the various World Bank and Trust Fund regulations.

The World Bank was represented at the launch by Alex Kamurasi and Arsala Deane who both emphasized the important role CSO’s play in the local community but also the World Bank’s commitment to assure the project achieves its main objective which is to ultimately improve the lives of the Sint Maarten people.

Closing off the official part of the launch was Elger Vermeer, Program Director of the VNGI, who (together with colleague Eline Vermeer) flew in from the Netherlands to clear the last operational hurdles to R4CR’s full scale launch. Mr. Vermeer stressed that the R4CR program is not only a funding mechanism that will help CSO’s build and strengthen their capacity, but more importantly it is a platform for the CSO’s to exchange ideas, experiences and establish a growing network. “The CSO’s are the heart of the local community and therefore the heart of the R4CR program” he concluded.

After the official speeches, host Kevin Petrona transformed into radio personality “Suppa” and gave each of the twelve grant recipients exactly one minute to pitch their project to the public.

  • The Carib Swim Team kicked off the pitches explaining their project to upgrade the

pumping and filtration system at the pool and install LED solar lights around the

compound.

  • The Philipsburg Jubilee Library plans to set up satellite libraries in different districts to

offer kids’ reading facilities closer to home.

  • SECDA (St Maarten Early Childhood Development Association) will assist day care

centers with an after-school grocery program, a food handlers’ course and a train-the-

trainer course in creative movement.

  • Helping Hands Foundation received a grant for a wheelchair bus for the elderly. This

grant is a collaborative effort between R4CR and Samenwerkende Fondsen.

  • K1 Britannia received a grant to execute staff training in disaster management and

disaster relief.

  • Reading Rainbow will rebuild the final section of their playschool that was destroyed by

hurricane Irma and upgrade the facility to cope with the COVID-19 realities.

  • The AIDS Foundation pitched their project to support uninsured HIV patients with

purchasing their much-needed medication and securing lab tests.

  • The Nature Foundation received a grant to execute the Vervet monkey management

project.

  • The Senior Citizen Foundation will use their grant to repair part of the facilities that

were damaged by hurricane Irma.

  • The Foundation Catholic Education will install the playground at the

Sister Marie Laurence school in collaboration with the Middle Region Community

Council.

  • The continuation of the spay/neuter vaccination program for stray animals is the main

focus of Animal Defender’s grant project.

  • The final one-minute pitch was reserved for the recently (formally) established Nanny

Nurssy Foundation who will use the grant to repair their facilities that were severely

damaged by hurricane Irma. The foundation hopes to give the homeless, the needy and

the infirm a decent place to recharge.

The launch ended with the symbolic signing of the grant agreements in which all twelve CSO’s simultaneously lifted their pen, their grant agreement, signed and showed the signed document. That marked the official launch of the R4CR project in which 452 thousand US dollars will be invested in the Sint Maarten economy via local CSO’s.

The next step in the process is the Pre-Disbursement Training (PDT) which the CSO’s will complete before the funds can be (partially) released to their projects. The PDT is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday (Nov 23 and Nov 24) at the gym of Hillside Christian School (Asha Stevens Campus) in Cay Hill.

For more information about the R4CR program or details of the selected projects please visit www.r4cr.org or the Facebook page (R4CRSXM).

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