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Prime Minister Jacobs 10th Anniversary of 10-10-10 Commemoration Speech

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - People of St. Maarten, it is my honor and pleasure to address you today on the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of St. Maarten attaining Country status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; a Decade since we embarked on a brand new journey as a Constituent State. Affectionately called 10-10-10, it is the start of a new beginning. It provoked in all of us, dreams of grandeur and prosperity never seen before.

We had hope and belief in ourselves that we could and would achieve and succeed at self-governance. Today, as per our laws, on this the second Monday in October, we commemorate the day, ten years ago, when the Constitution of St. Maarten first came into being, when our First Parliamentary Meeting was held; a day we, the people of St. Maarten moved into the next level of self-determination. This pivotal point in St. Maarten’s history came about by the choice of the St. Maarten people in the year 2000 to take direct control of our destiny and our future. With this in mind, this day, Constitution Day, should fill each St. Maartener with a sense of pride.  

I quote from the Translation of the official publication of Sint Maarten (AB 2010, GT no. 1)

Constitution of Sint Maarten

“1 PREAMBLE 

WE, THE PEOPLE OF SINT MAARTEN AFFIRM that we acknowledge the guiding principles of Almighty God as the core of our values; INSPIRED by the exercise of our universal right to self-determination, as expressed in the referendum of 23 June 2000, with which we freely chose for the status of Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; RESOLVED to work together, with our partners in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with our neighbours in French Saint Martin and with all peoples of the world on the basis of freedom, equality, peaceful co-existence and international solidarity; DECLARE that we are a people that believe in the principle of democracy, the rule of law, the principle of the segregation of powers, the dignity and value of the individual, the entitlement of all persons to the fundamental rights and freedoms; RESOLVED to provide for the continuing preservation of nature and the environment; DECLARE that we wish to establish a constitutional order based on an open and accessible government; AND THEREFORE, in order to record these goals and convictions, the following provisions have the force of law as the Constitution of Sint Maarten.”

This 10th Anniversary of Constitution Day has been themed, 'Decadal Growth & Progress,' owing to the fact that our young country, though in its infancy, and tiny in size, is mighty in potential. During these last 10 years, though it may be hard to pinpoint, we can identify areas of growth and progress, as well as identify areas of improvement, with the goal of standing on our own financially, responsibly, and sustainably, with the ability to handle external shocks independently.

Those who came before us, in the late 90s, through the early 2000s, had a clear vision of St. Maarten, as the financially prosperous island gem of the Dutch Caribbean. What we had not factored in, however, was the toll the lack of proper infrastructure, insufficient human capita, and political opportunism would have on our ability to grow into our vision of a successful Country within the Kingdom and into further self-governance. These issues have proven to be a huge challenge in this first decade of our growth and are matters we are still grappling with today.

I could describe our journey during the last ten years since achieving country status as a work in progress. In principle, there is nothing wrong with being a work in progress as long as we continue to be progressive. As I state this, I acknowledge and repeat that there is much work to be done, St. Maarten. The most recent challenges we have faced, and continue to face in 2020, are a subtle reminder of that work that needs to be done. Let us not forget that the words ‘Semper Pro Grediens - always moving forward’ which is our motto! And so, for that very reason, as a people, as a country, we must never stop fighting to improve our way of life, and striving to make St. Maarten a better place for us today and for our future St. Maarteners.

It has been a decade, not all of us are proud of in every moment, but from every experience, both positive and negative, comes lessons. And from where I stand today, at the helm of our St. Maarten, I acknowledge the hard work of those before and pledge to continue to push for the needed maturity among us. I recognize the necessary changes needed from within us a people, a government, a nation, to move St. Maarten to the next level of responsibility, accountability, sustainable development, and ultimately opportunity and progress for all.

We must remember the goal, the lessons learned, and focus as we move forward on what we can and will achieve. We must ask ourselves, where have we been, where are we now, and where do we want to go? To move forward we must first forgive ourselves and our leaders for the mistakes of the past and map a new way forward despite the current and lingering challenges. Countries have turned things around in 10 years, and with the lessons learned, Yes, St. Maarten can and will still become the vision of those who came before us because we still share that Vision.

We continue to work with former partners of the Netherland Antilles, Aruba, and Curaçao and with the Netherlands in an attempt to achieve the very best version of St. Maarten. During this year 10-10-2020, it is no secret and I would be committing a disservice not to mention the tensions that currently exist with the Kingdom. Our constitution is under fire, the Kingdom statutes are in question, our cooperation within the Kingdom is rife with historical and post-colonial baggage, which causes us to question our current status within the Kingdom. This calls for us to reassess our constitution, and ensure we have enacted all laws and regulations necessary. We must also assess the Kingdom Charter, as the democratic deficit within the Kingdom threatens our very existence. We must assess how we operate within the Kingdom. The debate of obligation versus responsibility, dictation versus dialogue, imposing of conditions versus true consensus. It is the greatest test we have had to endure – one that tests the will of the people to stand strong together, or be broken once more and left forever dependent.

Even in this, rest assured that despite our limited capacity, St. Maarten's government is working to find solutions even with limited resources and innovating to bring in the necessary funding that will serve us best on St. Maarten. We do so while insisting on a relationship with our partners in the Kingdom of the Netherlands built on mutual respect and equity.

The foundation on which our constitution has been founded, is irrevocable, except if the People of St. Maarten explicitly express differently. This is the pride that we hold as a nation; the pride I described earlier, the right to determine one's destiny. For this reason, I can stand proudly and say today that our future is truly in our own hands. Today’s virtual session restarts the education, the reflection, and the dialogue as to where next on this journey towards true self-determination as a people and as a nation. Tune in, chime in, be a part of the dialogue, be a part of the decision making.

When I look ahead to the next ten years and beyond, I have confidence in a vision that encompasses the continuous growth and development of this country via the empowerment of our people for the achievement of the success they envision for themselves. For this reason, the key underlying objective of the National Development Vision is the transformation of St. Maarten into a compassionate, strong, and decisive country that will be economically resilient and capable of sustaining its own development and providing an enhanced quality of life and wellbeing for generations to come. This totally in line with my vision for St Maarten - a place where dreams can be realized; where businesses and jobs are created, where innovation and opportunities abound, and education and quality of life are at the highest standards.

I envision a St. Maarten where we use the resources we have and enhance them to better our people. But most importantly, we move towards a sustainable St. Maarten, where we focus on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to come, in every aspect, whether it be the economy, the environment, or our social sectors.

Ladies and Gentlemen, people of St. Maarten, I conclude today by saying, there is more work to be done. Do we have more responsibilities than prior to 10-10-10? Yes. Have we been financially independent during this time? Yes! Have we made mistakes along the way? Yes! However, we can only learn from our shortcomings and build a strong and progressive nation upon those lessons. We are at a crossroads of our existence and I pray we choose wisely moving forward. Listen, read our constitution and subsequent laws, assess, reflect, learn, speak up, and help us forge the right path forward as we take the necessary steps for continued growth, self-determination, and success.

On this day, as we commemorate and, yes, celebrate ten years as a nation, I urge the people of St. Maarten to focus on the future and join in the process of building a strong and resilient nation for present and future generations. Happy Constitution Day, Decadal Growth and Progress, St. Maarten.

God Bless you, the people who make this, Sweet St. Maarten.

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Mental patient injured on Saturday during a struggle with officers

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - On Saturday afternoon October 10th, 2020 about 02.00 pm, the central dispatch directed several patrols to the Texaco Gas Station close to the Causeway to assist with a mental health patient who was acting erratic and aggressive.

At the gas station the officers encountered the patient with the initial J.M. who   refused to cooperate with the personnel of mental health who wanted to medicate the patient.

A melee ensued between the patient and officers when they tried to restrain her. During the struggle J.M. suffered a broken arm and bruises. The officers who restrained the patient suffered only minor injuries.

After being medicated J.M. was transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for treatment. (KPSM)    

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Governor Holiday: Building Our Country: Pivotal Moments

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday delivered his national address in connection with Constitution Day, Saturday, October 10, 2020, representing the 10th anniversary of Sint Maarten.

The Governor’s address is as follows:

Fellow Sint Maarteners,

Good Morning,

  1. Introduction

Today, October 10, 2020, we observe the 10th anniversary of Sint Maarten’s Country status.

The tenth anniversary of Country Status is an excellent moment to stop and take stock of our experiences in the past decade and to prepare for the challenges and opportunities for the coming decade.

Today’s observance is a moment to renew our commitment to the goal of Country Status. That is to improve the wellbeing of the people of Sint Maarten.

This morning I address you from this historic location, at the square in the heart of Philipsburg. It was here that we gathered with optimism and expectations to witness Sint Maarten’s transition from Island Territory of the Netherlands Antilles to Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

As the clock struck midnight to welcome October 10, 2010, we saw the flag of the Netherlands Antilles come down and the flag of Sint Maarten go up. The excitement and optimism of the people present for that historic moment are forever etched in my memory. And I am sure in the memory of all those who witnessed it. The dawning of October 10, 2010 was the start of a new chapter in Sint Maarten’s journey of self-government.

In the next few minutes, I shall highlight some pivotal moments of our island’s journey to and experiences with Country status. And in doing so share some thoughts for the further building of our Country. In saying that I hasten to emphasize that these are but highlights, for it would take me days to give you a complete overview of the journey and experiences.

  1. The road to Country Status

Based on my experiences of the past two decades I can inform you that the road to Country Status and of the past ten years were not smooth.

Referendum

A key moment in the process was the October 30, 1998 decision of the Island Council to organize the referendum held on June 23, 2000. In the referendum the people voted for Sint Maarten to become a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On the evening of the outcome of the referendum there was much excitement and jubilance. In a 2003 lecture, reflecting on the atmosphere, I referred to the evening as “The Great Bay Dance”. The result of the referendum was, as such, the first pivotal moment of our journey to Country Status.

Following the referendum, several target dates were set to achieve Country status. It would instead take more than 10 years following the referendum. Throughout the process, Sint Maarten would face push back, based on doubts and concerns from The Hague as to its readiness and capability to carry the responsibilities of a country. There were as a result numerous difficult technical and political negotiations. Unfazed, Sint Maarten persisted in its quest for Country Status.

Process and Criteria

The outcome of Sint Maarten’s referendum and the persistence of Sint Maarten made it clear that the time for constitutional change had come. The change started taking concrete shape with the signing of the Framework Accord on October 22, 2005 in Bonaire and with the signing of the Final Declaration of the Start Round Table Conference on November 26, 2005 in Curacao.

The Accord and Final Declaration established the framework for the process and the criteria to realize the new constitutional arrangements in the Kingdom. These agreements were pivotal moments in the process.

Consensus Kingdom laws

As I said the path to Country status was not smooth. The organization and regulation of the public prosecution service, the police, financial management, debt restructuring, and supervision have been the subject of major debate and contention throughout the process. Several obstacles would have to be overcome. The handling and approval of the consensus Kingdom laws in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament in April of 2010 was the culmination of tough negotiations, characterized by creative thinking and pragmatism to achieve the end goal. It was another pivotal moment in Sint Maarten’s Journey to Country Status.

The Constitution

The preparation of the Constitution formed an important guide for the progress in our journey to Country Status. Work on the drafting of the Constitution started shortly after the referendum resulting in the presentation of the first draft in February of 2003. At the Round Table Conference of December 15, 2008, it was concluded that the draft constitution and the organic laws met the established criteria. This, following major debate about the proposed introduction of the constitutional court and constitutional review on Sint Maarten. The introduction of constitutional review constituted a novum in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Constitution was ultimately approved by the island Council in 2010. It would become the most quoted and debated document during the past ten years of Country status. Its ratification was a pivotal moment in Sint Maarten becoming a Country. 

Attainment Country Status

The process concluded with the signing of the final declaration at the Final Round Table Conference on September 9, 2010, in the Hague. More than 10 years after the referendum, Sint Maarten celebrated the attainment of Country Status with the rising of the Sint Maarten Flag on October 10, 2010. It was the start of Country Status, the pivotal moment in Sint Maarten’s journey.

  1. Experiences with Country Status

Looking back, October 10, 2010, is a transformational moment in the history and development of Sint Maarten. On that historic day I delivered my acceptance speech as the first Governor of Sint Maarten before Parliament and stated: “Today we stand at the portal of our new Country Sint Maarten. …the challenges ahead are immense.  …. there rests on us a great responsibility; a responsibility to build ….. a stronger Sint Maarten for future generations”. The 10 years since 10-10-10 turned out to be challenging years indeed.

Throughout the process towards Country Status repeated concerns were voiced about, among others, the immigration services, the police organization, the detention system, and the financial and tax administration. Having assumed these responsibilities it was clear that it would take money, people, and time to address the challenges involved.

To meet its new responsibilities the government built the new administrative structure from the ground up. The government, among others:

  • created important new institutions such as the Governor, the Parliament, and the Council of Ministers;
  • restructured the island government to set up seven ministries;
  • founded the Council of Advice, the General Audit Chamber, and the Ombudsman;
  • established the Constitutional Court of Sint Maarten;
  • developed new policies and procedures consistent with its new responsibilities; and
  • completed the new administration building.

As we worked to develop our critical institutions for the functioning of our country, we experienced socio-economic, waste management, climate change, budgetary, and political challenges. These challenges have been exacerbated by major external shocks, as a result of hurricane IRMA in 2017 and COVID-19 in 2020 as I speak.

During the past 10 years we have had our share of political discord resulting in 4 elections and 10 governments. This has led to fundamental questions as to the functioning of our democracy and to discussions about electoral reform. These discussions have dominated public debate. Far less attention has been given to the moments when government and parliament acted in unity towards the building of our Country. Action that has resulted in legislative initiatives such as:

  1. the conversion and reparation of scores of central government and island government regulations into national ordinances and decrees in the period 2010 through 2012 to reflect the new structure;
  2. the establishment of the national decree in 2013 to formalize the practice of background screening of candidate ministers before their appointment;
  3. the introduction of pension reforms in 2016 and 2020, to secure the financial viability of the old age pension system;
  4. the introduction of reforms to the civil servants’ pension plan in 2016 and 2020 to safeguard its sustainability; and
  5. the passing of legislation between 2012 and 2019 to comply with international anti-money laundering standards to protect our financial system and economy.

 

Throughout the decade we have, in good and bad times, been able to count on a broad cross section of our people, to educate our children, to defend our safety and protect our freedoms, to care for the sick and elderly and to provide products and services for our economy. Our economy grew by 0.7% on average from 2011 - 2016 and unemployment declined from 11.5% to 8.7%.

The devastation caused by IRMA to our country’s infrastructure in September of 2017 wiped out socio-economic gains in terms of economic growth and employment. This situation has been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak since the beginning of this year. The virus has taken too many lives, affected the health of much more and brought travel to a virtual standstill. It is causing businesses to retrench or close and threatening the livelihoods of many. For this year, our country is facing an economic fallout of some 25% and an increase in unemployment to 16.2%. This as many among us lose jobs and face cuts in working hours and/or pay. Already cash strapped, the public finances have been hard hit, resulting in the need to raise funding urgently.

At this 10-year mark of our Country Status we find ourselves in tough times with significant financial and socio-economic challenges. As we face these challenges it is important that we guard against emphasizing the times that we have fallen and forgetting the times that we have risen. In the aftermath of IRMA many people in our community got up, brushed themselves of and started working to rebuild their homes, reopen their businesses, help their neighbors, and support our youngster and our elderly. And since the coronavirus outbreak there has been many courageous men and women out there on the frontline risking their own health to save lives and to keep us safe. Courageous health care professionals, law enforcement officers, firefighters, supermarket employees, other frontline employees, and volunteers, who day in and day out rise to the task to protect our wellbeing and our country.

These two crises have called for major responses from the government and our population. And all indications are that more efforts and sacrifices will be required going forward. We have worked with and received valued support from our Kingdom partners in response to hurricane IRMA and the coronavirus. Amidst it all, it is regrettable that relations between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands have been strained.

Caught up in the urgency to address our challenges, we sometimes fail to appreciate and recognize, the dedicated efforts and contributions of our people, fine professionals and volunteers. Contributions which are necessary for progress and to maintain Sint Maarten as a good place to live.

  1. The future

Looking ahead I therefore dedicate this 10th anniversary to the people of Sint Maarten with a plaque, which reads:

“This Plaque

Remembers the first celebration of Country Status in the heart of Philipsburg, Commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Country Status

and is

Dedicated to the People of Sint Maarten for their Perpetual Progress.”

Looking ahead to the coming decade we know that major challenges are on the horizon. Challenges because of climate change, of increased risks of global pandemics, of rapid technological advancements and of the ageing of our population. Challenges which few countries can handle on their own. Facing the effects of IRMA and the coronavirus we are already confronted with the realities of these challenges.

Armed with this knowledge, the question we face today is: What can we do now to overcome these challenges and make the next decade, a decade of growth and progress for our people. For at the end of the day, that is the purpose of the attainment of Country Status.

Faced with these challenges each of us can draw valuable lessons from our 10 years journey to and from our 10 years of experience with Country Status. We can look back and draw inspiration from the knowledge, that faced with great challenges we have the resilience, courage, and determination to rise, meet and overcome them as a people. We can look forward with confidence, trusting that that spirit will, as always, continue to drive the future development and building of our country.

We must at the same time not take our Sint Maarten spirit for granted. It is instead important for us to mobilize, inspire and nourish our Sint Maarten spirit. Going forward this calls for stable and effective governance and for the establishment of a “National Agenda for the 2020s” anchored on broad societal support.

Our first order of business must however be the coming together of – government, business, labor, and civil society, – without delay in an “emergency meeting”. This to develop a collective approach to take the required steps to address the current social, economic, and financial challenges associated with the coronavirus crisis. I trust that that will be the first pivotal moment in the second decade of Country Status.

This emergency meeting should serve as the lead up to a National Summit shortly thereafter to develop a comprehensive “National Agenda for the 2020s” to meet the needs of our people. A national agenda aimed at bringing our human resources home, providing affordable housing, strengthening our institutions, enhancing education, realizing sustainable health care, reducing poverty, protecting our environment, creating resilient infrastructure, fostering sound public finances and promoting sustainable economic development for the coming decade.

Guided by our National Agenda we must work with each other and work with our Kingdom, our Northern, and our Caribbean partners to build our Country. As a small country this will offer the opportunity to pool our limited resources, tap into our extended network of partners, and mobilize the resources which are necessary to develop new solutions to these major challenges.

I will in that regard like to leave you with the following words of Nelson Mandela, and I quote: “It always seems impossible until it is done ..” unquote. The realization of Country Status seemed to be an insurmountable challenge and we achieved it. Today’s observance of the tenth anniversary of Country Status is thus a reminder that as a people we have the resilience, persistence, and capacity to develop and follow an effective strategy. A reminder that we must use these characteristics to overcome our challenges and build our country for current and future generations.

In closing, let us thank God for watching over our country through good and bad times, during the past decade, and ask him for wisdom and guidance for the decade ahead.

It is in that spirit that Marie-Louise and I extend Best Wishes to the people of Sint Maarten on this 10th Constitution Day and for the future of our Country.

Thank you, God bless you, and May God bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.

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Speech and Language difficulties in children set for Oct.15

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport is organizing an online workshop entitled, Speech and Language difficulties in children: What parents should know and how they can help.”

The general public, especially parents/guardians of primary school children are invited to attend. This online workshop will be held on Thursday October 15, 2020 on Microsoft teams from 6:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

The objective of the workshop is to inform parents, teachers, and the general public about typical speech and language development as well as related disorders. In addition, the online workshop will also provide the attendees with tips and strategies to support children who are experiencing speech and language difficulties.

Persons can register by calling SSSD ahead of the session and also by clicking the link for the workshop on our Facebook page. For more information, contact the Student Support Services Division at 543-1235 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) provides services to students referred by the schools. These services includes but is not limited to psychological services, counseling services, social work services and speech language pathology services. SSSD also provides career guidance services to students and parent education/information sessions. 

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Unfinished business: financial management still a priority

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - October 9th, 2020. The General Audit Chamber submitted its report entitled “Retrospective: 10 years General Audit Chamber” to Parliament today. The report presents findings and conclusions about the most influential audits of the General Audit Chamber, from the past decade.

An analysis of the audits from the past reveals that on some topics, the Government’s financial management has improved, however, structural improvement is lacking. After 10 years, the General Audit Chamber concludes that there is inefficient spending of public funds, no improved compliance nor advancement of the quality of the financial statements.

Given the current economic situation, efficient spending is more important than ever, according to the Audit Chamber. In their report, they discuss the need for more efficient use of redundancy pay for former political office holders, the use of government vehicles, traveling costs, the legality of allowances and bonuses, and the possibility of combining the Cabinets of Ministers with staff bureaus of Secretary-Generals.

According to the Audit Chamber, to achieve increased financial autonomy the Government must improve financial management. Proper financial management leads to efficient use of taxpayers' money, greater public confidence in the government, higher tax revenues, higher odds of improved compliance, reduced risk of corruption, reduced financial dependence on the Kingdom, and elimination of higher financial supervision. To date, the 2015 financial statements have not yet been handled by Parliament. Without a proper financial statement of the previous year, it becomes nearly impossible to draft a sound budget.

Reflecting on the last 10 years, the Audit Chamber concludes that the improvement of financial management remains a priority.

The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).

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Motorworld Group of Companies Donates Tablets to the Students of M.A.C.

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Many schools throughout St. Maarten are continuously expanding their online e-learning classrooms. However, several students are still facing challenges due to the lack of proper resources to actively participate in the online classrooms without internet access and/or digital devices. 

“Despite the economic downturns that have affected business operations, Motorworld Group remains dedicated to assisting the community, particularly steadfast educational institutions, such as the Methodist Agogic Centre (M.A.C.) and its students to support these vital areas,” shares Tariq Amjad, Managing Director, Motorworld Group of Companies. With this in mind, Motorworld Group has, once again, responded to the request of the educational community, by providing tablets to the students of M.A.C. Recently, a presentation of 10 tablets were made to Mrs. Rose Hughes Coram, Executive Director, Foundation Methodist Agogic Centre.  

The M.A.C. schools are committed to developing in their pupils a strong love for learning, a high level of self-esteem, independence and self-discipline. Therefore, M.A.C. develops and implements a curriculum that is broad, balanced and challenging, so as to give their students the opportunities to experience success in learning. 

“We are indeed very appreciative of this generous donation of 10 tablets that we can, in turn, supply to our students in order for them to be able to continue with the new normal of online learning,” shares Mrs. Coram. “Education must continue!  A great big ‘Thank You’ to the Management of Motorworld for heeding the call to assist our parents and students, which is much appreciated!”

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Sint Maarten Lions Club donates for World Sight Day October 8th

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1925, she attended the Lions Club International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA as the keynote speaker of the convention. As an ambassador for the newly formed American Foundation for the Blind, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become the “Knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” The Lions graciously accepted her challenge and our work ever since has included sight programs aimed at preventable blindness.

Today, October 8th, 2020 we celebrate “World Sight Day” and it is fitting that on this day, the Sint Maarten Lions Club was able to present to Ms. Gloria Francis, a coordinator at the No Kidding with our Kids afternoon program as well as a youth leader of the Mohican Scouts group in St. Maarten for many years with a pair of eye-glasses.

Ms. Francis is a very passionate, dedicated and responsible coordinator that goes beyond her call of duty to make sure each child that she comes in contact with gets the best care possible. With this donation from the Lions Club, we know that these eyeglasses will not only benefit her as an individual, but also it assists her in her daily life. Her family will also benefit because of her improve sight as she will be able to provide for them. The kids at the No kidding with our Kids foundation and the Mohican scouts will also benefit as she will be able to continue her dedicated care to them and help mold them into our bright future leaders.

Sight is one of the core areas of Lionism and have been one of their main focus areas since 1925. The Sint Maarten Lions Club for the past 50 years has continued to engage in programs that aid persons with sight disabilities. Over the years we have donated numerous eyeglasses to young and seniors in our community. We have collected recycled eyeglasses from the community and was able to send these abroad to recycle centers where they refurbish these glasses and distribute them to less fortunate persons in third world countries.

We have held several large vision programs over the years with the latest one "Eyes for a Brighter Future" sight project being held in 2018 as one of our signature projects. This project started in 2017 under then Lion President Davey Woods MJF and continued and executed under the presidential year 2018 of Lion Alison Busby MJF. In collaboration with the VOSH Foundation, a group of retired and volunteered doctors from the United States, we were able to assist over 3000 primary school students with eye screening exams and a number of them were provided with eyeglasses on the spot.

The Sint Maarten Lions will continue in the years ahead with aiding persons with their sight and helping to prevent blindness as much as possible by executing programs and awareness to those in need. Plans are in place to have follow up sight programs in the coming years.

On behalf of the board and the entire membership of the Sint Maarten Lions Club, we say Thank You to our various sponsors and donors over the years that have aid us with the funds to be able to reach and provide assistance to the many in our community. We look forward to your continued support.

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USM to launch 10-10-20 lecture series for critical reflection on Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Saturday, 10 October, the University of St Martin (USM) will begin a virtual lecture series dedicated to the significance of the political disintegration of the Netherlands Antilles and Sint Maarten receiving its autonomous country status ten years ago. 10-10-20: A Reflection on St. Maarten’s Constitutional Journey will host 4 lectures and critical dialogue in collaboration with the Mèlé podcast group.

“The idea to create a space for critical reflection on the 10th anniversary of St. Martin receiving its autonomous country status came about through various conversations. In January this year, USM staff reached out to concerned citizens and notable members of our community who were happy to form part of the organising committee”, said USM Events Manager Valda Hazel.

The committee consists of former Minister Plenipotentiary Jorine Wuite; Social Economic Council Policy Advisor Carla Vlaun; Makhicia Brooks of the Sint Maarten Development Fund; political scientist and Consultant Julio Romney; Senior Policy Advisor and Interim Director of the Department of Foreign Relations Patrice Gumbs; sociologist and Co-ordinator of the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform Raymond Jessurun, USM Event Manager Ms. Valda Hazel and USM President Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez.

According to a press release emitted on Wednesday, the role of the university is not to instigate celebration, nor to lead public commemoration of 10-10-10. Rather, the mission is to “co-create a space whereby experts, citizens and residents -young and seasoned- are called to reflect on our reality; opening up the possibility of imagining the future of our beloved St. Martin”.

“Today, as St. Martin continues to struggle with its political status both at Marigot as well as Philipsburg, in the face of climate change, COVID-19 and resulting economic challenges, the university opens its virtual doors and invites the country to engage in a dialogue that will document our history and allow us to walk further with the knowledge we create collectively,” Dr. Carmona stated.  

In this first episode, scheduled for Saturday, former Lieutenant Governor and former Minister of Justice, Mr. Dennis Richardson will provide a testimony based on experience and memory. This will serve as the basis for discussion on the referendum and the negotiated outcomes which brought the country to its current legal and institutional situation. The Mèlé podcast group will then engage the public in critical reflection.

Having started their monthly podcast shows in July of this year, Mèlé consists of four young St. Martin professionals who discuss culture, society and politics from a nuanced perspective. Among these: journalist and USM alumn Ralph Cantave; economist, educator and artist Jonathan van Arneman, historian and political scientist Carla Vlaun, and tuning-in in from the diaspora in France, expert on economic law Stephy Gumbs. Other keynote speakers in the lecture series include: Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten Executive Director Richard Doornsbosch, and former Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs. The lectures and dialogues will be broadcasted via Zoom on USM’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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Commemorative coin on the occasion of ‘10 years of structural reforms’

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) issued a unique commemorative circulation coin to mark 10 years of structural reforms since October 10, 2010. The CBCS officially presented the coin to the prime ministers and the ministers of Finance of Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

In Curaçao, the officials received the coin from CBCS-president Richard Doornbosch, and in Sint Maarten from the director of the CBCS Sint Maarten office, Mrs. Raquel Lo-Fo-Wong. The obverse side of this NAf 5 circulation coin shows the Roman numeral “X”, in which is written “October 10, 2010-2020”.

On the left side of the X, the flag of Curaçao is displayed in color, and on the right side, the flag of Sint Maarten is shown, also in color. On the upper edge of the coin, the words “PAIS KÒRSOU” and “COUNTRY OF SINT MAARTEN” are written, and at the base, the silhouettes of the countries Curaçao and Sint Maarten are depicted.

The reverse side of the coin includes the coat of arms of the former country of the Netherlands Antilles, the denomination (5G), and year of issue (2020). This commemorative coin, of which 100,000 pieces have been struck, will be put into circulation on October 9, 2020, through the commercial banks in Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

Especially for collectors, a limited number of rolls of these 5-guilder coins are available. Collectors can buy these rolls of 20 uncirculated coins for the price of NAf. 100,- per roll, at the CBCS exclusively.

CBCS Munt SXM

From left to right: Raquel Lo-Fo-Wong (CBCS), Ardwell Irion (Minister of Finance), Silveria Jacobs (Prime Minister)

CBCS Munt CUR

From left to right: Kenneth Gijsbertha (Minister of Finance), Eugene Rhuggenaath (Prime Minister), Richard Doornbosch (CBCS-President)

CBCS NPI 6289 CD 04310 Curacao 5 Guilder obv 1

 

 

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MP Akeem Arrindell meets with MHF to discuss overall welfare of island

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - United St Maarten Party (USP) Member of Parliament (MP) Akeem Arrindell met on Monday with representatives of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) to discuss the way forward his party wants to undertake to improve the overall welfare of the island.

St. Maarten currently faces several challenges due to the lack of mental health facilities. Currently a mental health ambulance care team goes into the community daily to visit mental health patients, dispense medicines and provide other services such as guidance and counseling to patients and their families.

It was observed during the meeting that the number of patients seeking treatment has increased since the passing of Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The Island has experienced an increase in mental health patients through the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of persons suffering from mental health conditions has greatly increased and there is now a need to seriously address the situation. It was recognized that there is no primary health care system on Sint Maarten, which results in the need for more care in the communities to prevent the need for costly hospital admissions.

Also discussed during the meeting is the inadequate security at the mental health facility. There is only one security guard on the premises to cover and oversee all departments. It was therefore suggested that BAVPOL officers could be of assistance to ensure the increased protection needed, once they are properly trained to deal with patients. The lack of adequate legislation relating to mental health matters also adds to the already existing challenges.

MHF recommends a consensus between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of VSA to address patient care, or the lack there-of.

Sports and educational programs and facilities are needed to enhance the welfare and wellbeing of mental health patients. The short term and long term health requirements for Sint Maarten were also discussed during the meeting. One of the short-term requirements that were outlined includes the need for additional psychiatrists. Presently MHF caters to 24 clients in urgent need of housing, leaving many on the road.

MHF has submitted a project to the World Bank for financial assistance. Several options are in discussion to facilitate the urgently needed housing for the foundation and its patients. The MHF staff attend to over 500 cases annually while the facility only has one isolation room.

A plan of action as to what needs to be done going forward was formulated. It was ultimately agreed that the Mental Health Foundation will prepare a PowerPoint presentation for review by MP Arrindell and MP Buncamper for presentation to Parliament.

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