SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Every year the Oranje Fonds, from the Netherlands, hosts the ‘Appeltjes van Oranje’ (Apples of Orange) award, all highlighting NGO-work and accomplishments, mainly work that is focussed on connecting people and ensuring community participation.
This year’s theme focussed on volunteerism: ‘The power of togetherness, with volunteers you achieve more’, recognizing NGOs that achieve mobilising volunteers in a unique way while being able to keep them motivated.
The semi-finals for the Dutch Caribbean region took place on Curaçao, this past Sunday, on November 11th. Out of the 10 pre-selected semi-finalists, a total of four made it through from Sint Maarten. With four stemming from Curaçao, one from Aruba and one from Bonaire.
A very special accomplishment, especially considering the circumstances post-Irma, whereby much of the recovery work was accomplished through NGOs and (their) volunteers. And that being recognised on a special day such as Sint Maarten’s day.
The two finalists selected during this special day, from the top 10, have been invited to attend the Dutch semi-finals in the Netherlands in January 2019 and later the finals in May 2019 at ‘Paleis Noordeinde’ (The palace of the King and Queen of the Netherlands – the official patrons of the Oranje Fonds, since its inception).
Director Peter Douwes: “We believe in a socially connected Kingdom where everyone can participate. For this, you need passionate hands on persons, ones that stay involved.
“That is why volunteers are crucial, and why we are searching for people that know how to get the volunteers involved and achieve more together. These people, they are heroes. They are the ones making the difference. And that is what we want to recognize, and thus award, with an ‘Apple of Orange’.”
The four NGOs hailing from Sint Maarten, pre-selected as semi-finalists, were the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation, Voice of the Youth, Player Development, and K1 Britannia. All being recognised for their great achievements through volunteerism.
These NGOs, together with 6 others from the other Dutch Caribbean islands vied for two spots in the finals, where they will go head to head with eight other Dutch NGOs.
Of the 10 NGOs, all of whom received a check worth €2.500,- , the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation and ‘Tur Ta Konta’, from Curaçao, were selected as the winners to go on to the finals in the Netherlands in May 2019. The ‘Appeltjes van Oranje’ prize, which includes a €15.000 cash prize and a bronze ‘Appeltjes’ statue designed by Princess Beatrix, will be handed over by the Honourable King and/or Queen.
Fleur Hermanides, the local project coordinator for Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben (SFC), of whom the Oranje Fonds is one of the funders, was very proud and humbled to see so many initiatives from Sint Maarten make it this far.
A true recognition of all the hard work NGOs and (their) volunteers do for Sint Maarten, for society, and as a whole. The Samenwerkende Fondsen representative wishes to congratulate all the semi-finalists, and especially the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation on this great accomplishment, as well as recognise them for the great work they have been doing for the community for so many years, especially in times where it has been very hard to find adequate support to tend to the needs of their target groups.
The Oranje Fonds, which is one of the six funding agencies forming the ‘Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben / Cooperating Foundations for the Dutch Caribbean’, has a history of supporting social initiatives in the Netherlands and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
Since the inception of ‘Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben’ in 2004, over €20 million has been invested in supporting initiatives that allow for people to meet each other, feel less of a sense of loneliness, understand each other and make an effort for one another. In 2017 alone, this was over €2.3 million in the Dutch Caribbean.
All four semi-finalists from Sint Maarten, including Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben Project Coordinator Fleur Hermanides, K1 Britannia, Voice of the Youth, the St. Maarten
AIDS Foundation, and Player Development.
All Dutch Caribbean semi-finalists.