SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - In September 2018, K1 Britannia Foundation formed and launched a Disaster Relief and Crisis Team called K1 DIRECT on St. Maarten. Shortly after assembling the team in St. Maarten, K1 initiated a branch of DIRECT in Curacao and will be strengthening the team this year.
The decision to develop a branch in Curacao stemmed from reasons including the need to be dependable in their commitments to the Government of St. Maarten (in the roles of shelter management, first response, and mass distribution), the strategic location of Curacao and the risk of a disaster striking St. Maarten and affecting the team.
In a wake of a disaster, the team on St. Maarten would potentially become victims and would not be able to assist at their full capacity due to extreme damage to their homes, loss of belongings and other personal tribulations.
In August 2018, K1 launched an online survey for residents of Curacao interested in joining K1 DIRECT, in which 34 persons participated. This survey, similar to the one launched on St. Maarten, covered vital details that would link the persons’ interests and commitments to K1 DIRECT, such as prior disaster management trainings, willingness and ability to travel for disaster relief work, and medical concerns.
Program Manager Iris Hakkens states, “Based on our information sessions & surveys, we received many recruits with prior experience in the field or in relevant fields, such as engineering, ex-military and/or law enforcement, search & rescue, and even a member with qualifications in stress management.”
As Curacao is a part of the Dutch Kingdom, and already has a direct connection with St. Maarten, K1 decided Curacao would be the best option to mobilize a team. “The suggestion came to us by one of our St. Maarten DIRECT members.
The idea was that if St. Maarten DIRECT members were affected, we should have a back up plan in place, and Curacao seemed like the most strategic option since it is placed out of the hurricane belt, amongst other factors”, added Program Manager Alan Schet.
After the survey was launched, K1 Britannia Disaster Relief Program Managers Alan Schet & Iris Hakkens travelled to Curacao to recruit the volunteers. K1 DIRECT has recruited 20 members, 12 of which have signed confidentiality & volunteer agreements.
While in Curacao, Iris and Alan also took this opportunity to research options for insurance and trainings on the island. Currently approximately 12 members are insured.
K1 hosted an information session at the University of Curacao about the development of the program on St. Maarten and the goals for K1 DIRECT Curacao.
They were able to meet and collaborate with persons of RIVERT (the Refinery’s Emergency Response Team), CUSAR- Caribbean Urban Search & Rescue and Voluntary Corps of Curacao and Head of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, and the Head of Disaster Coordination Curacao.
The initiation of K1 DIRECT Curacao, received a great deal of Public Relations exposure in Curacao. The two Program Managers gave two live TV interviews on Telecuracao on “Moru Bon Dia”, and “TV DIRECT” on “DenKonteksto”.
Next steps and goals for K1 DIRECT Curacao would be to complete all relevant trainings and qualifications, equip the team with supplies and completeinsurance to adequately prepare them for a disaster situation. Program Manager Alan Schet states, “Future goals of K1 DIRECT Curacao are to grow the team into a well-rounded group of volunteers that are confident in their abilities to help others during a disaster.
“Personally, I’ve always felt a need to help people and this is one of the ways that I can. I hope we can continue to inspire each other within the team and out, while building this team together.”
The development of K1 DIRECT St. Maarten and Curacao is made possible through funding of Carnival Cruise Line and the NRF. “Carnival Cruise Line wanted to be a part of a long-term solution for disaster relief.
“Because of its heart for those in the Caribbean region who were affected by the 2017 hurricane season, the cruise line found it imperative to play a meaningful part in not only the recovery but also preparation. We are grateful for the opportunities the sponsorship has allowed,” concluded K1 Co-Founder, Priya Thirumur.