Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (1380)

Holland America Line sponsors maritime training for St. Maarten Youth

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Ten local youth have recently started a comprehensive maritime course, which will allow them to obtain multiple local and international certifications.

The 3-month course has been made possible through the collaboration of K1 Britannia Foundation & Kidz at Sea Foundation with Holland America Line as the course sponsor.

Holland America Line reached out to K1 Britannia Foundation in March 2018, enquiring how they could assist the island in its long-term recovery after hurricane Irma. One of the many concerns that were discussed was the lack of employment opportunities post-Irma for Sint Maarten’s youth.

"There are so many ways that we can build back stronger, not only in terms of buildings and infrastructure but in terms of society. K1’s second chance program before Irma had a broad focus; we've had to narrow it down after Irma to focus on the current needs facing our target group of youths, enabling them to get the proper training and opportunities based on the job market on the island” said Alan Schet, Project Manager at K1.

K1’s pre-existing second chance program has been built on the principle of giving youth opportunities; training and mentoring needed to become successful members of society.

As a maritime foundation, getting the youth into the maritime industry, potentially a big job market on the island, as well as abroad has always been a priority. This passion is shared by Kidz at Sea Foundation who focus on exposing local youth to the opportunities in the maritime industry of St. Maarten by offering them unique training opportunities.

After Hurricane Irma, Kidz at Sea and K1 started discussions of how to provide training so that participants would become immediately employable in the maritime industry, especially with the current demand for boat repair. Out of these discussions the idea was formed to create a training program that will offer them certification through the level of Coastal Captain and significant hands on maintenance experience.

Robbie Ferron, President of Sint Maarten Marine Trades Association reiterated the need for participation in the industry: “The board is aware of the shortage of trained personnel in this labor area, especially after hurricane Irma, and believes that this initiative is strategic for the Sint Maarten Economy”.

The idea of this program was then brought to Holland America Line who quickly jumped onboard. They wanted to be part of providing immediate employment and supporting St. Maarten’s recovery efforts from not just an economic perspective but also from a societal perspective.

“Holland America Line is honored to partner with K1 Britannia on its disaster relief efforts. Long term recovery though job creation and a focus on youth is the reason we chose this project. This program is changing lives for these young people” stated Pamela Baade, Corporate Giving Manager of Holland America Line.

The goal of the course is to not only provide training for youth that will enable them to find a job in the short term, but skills and certification that will give them a career for life. Opening them up to a world of possibilities, both in St. Maarten and the rest of the world.

Kidz at Sea has been instrumental in the courses design, having years of experience in giving a variety of maritime courses on the island. “The course will prepare the candidates to slide right in and be able to fill positions in either the day charter, mega yacht or cruise line positions that become available” says founder of Kidz At Sea, Lorraine Talmi.

Court of Guardianship Director Mrs. Richelda Rodriguez-Emmanuel added: “Finding work can be quite a challenge for youngsters, especially those who face additional challenges because of their education level, background and/or family situation. Creating specific opportunities for them is important because they then get a chance to prove themselves and also will be able to contribute to our society. The training programs also allow for personal growth, which is very important.”

The results during the last several weeks have been very encouraging, with participants showing keen interest in the maritime field and excelling. By the end of the program, participants will have obtained multiple local and international certifications starting with basic keelboat, basic cruising, bare boat cruising, vessel maintenance, STCW 2010, ending with a boat master license.

The Sint Maarten Marine Trades Association have endorsed and been very supportive of this program, with several companies having committed to offering these youths jobs upon successful completion of this course.

“We are very excited to partner with Holland America Line and Kidz at Sea for this program. We believe it's very important for the future of getting youth into the maritime industry,” says Priya Thirumur of K1 Britannia Foundation.

Through collaborative efforts of local charitable and other maritime organizations, and with partners and sponsors such as Holland America Line, life-changing opportunities are created for youth in terms of training and job opportunities, both in St Maarten and abroad.

For more information about Kidz at Sea Foundation, K1 Britannia Foundation, and Holland America Line, visit, or

Photo 1 Participants of the maritime training course

Photo 3 Participants getting ready to head out to sea

Photo 4 Participant sanding during boat repair class


Library Board states position on hurricane-ravaged PJL

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In light of the developments and media reports during the last months, the Board of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL) would hereby like to inform the general public as follows.

More than a year ago, hurricane Irma destroyed practically the entire library building, and at least 80% of the library’s books and other media. Despite this disaster, and thanks primarily to the unrelenting hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of the library’s staff and others, the PJL was able to reopen and continue to offer services to the public.

On November 23rd and December 14th of 2017, the Board and Management of the PJL met with the former Secretary-General of the Ministry of ECYS, the former acting Head of Culture, representatives of the Ministry of VROMI and the Head of Facility Affairs about relocating the PJL to an alternative location as soon as possible.

On March 1st, 2018, the PJL Board wrote a follow-up letter to the former Minister of ECYS. On April 6th, 2018, the PJL Board sent another follow-up letter to the Secretary-General of the Ministry of ECYS. Then, in May of 2018, the former Minister of ECYS and her advisors met with the Board and Management of the PJL, and agreed that the Government would take the decision to allocate insurance payments for the PJL towards the rental payments for the temporary relocation of the PJL to the Super Plaza building.

The availability of the Super Plaza building right across the road from the current PJL location was very convenient from a practical and logistical point of view. The idea was to move over before the start of the 2018 hurricane season, in order to prevent further damage to an important part of Sint Maarten’s national heritage, and also to drastically improve the working conditions of the staff.

As also agreed with Government, the temporary move would allow for the demolition of the remains of the PJL and the construction of a completely new, fully accessible, fully hurricane-proof, and modern “National Heritage Center” (NHC) at the current location of the PJL. The funding for the construction of this NHC was included in the initial World Bank reconstruction fund list. It is estimated to take approximately 2-3 years to build, and will incorporate the PJL, Sint Maarten Museum, and SIMARC. The latter two accommodations were even more severely damaged than the PJL during hurricane Irma.

The co-location of the three organizations has been ten years in the making, and shortly after the meeting with the former Minister of ECYS, the Boards of the PJL, Sint Maarten Archeological Center (SIMARC) and The Sint Maarten National Heritage Foundation (Sint Maarten Museum) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) based on which a joint Task Force started the preparations for the establishment of the NHC for Sint Maarten. 

However, since said meeting with the former Minister of ECYS five months ago, and after numerous attempts by the Board and Management of the PJL to get a confirmation of the decision of the Government, the temporary move to the Super Plaza building was ultimately rejected by the Council of Ministers.  Moreover, the Government recently informed the NHC Task Force that the funding for the NHC was not on the World Bank’s list of projects to be funded, and did not indicate which initiatives, if any, were being considered.

As a result of these developments, the PJL, its staff, and the national heritage in the remains of the building have continued to suffer from deplorable working conditions and the effects of heavy rains and winds respectively. It is also abundantly clear that any minor hurricane passing over Sint Maarten will most probably destroy what remains of the PJL and the national heritage it houses.

The Board and Management of the PJL have repeatedly brought this matter to the attention of the Government during the past months. Pictures and videos of the extreme water damage and deplorable working conditions inside the PJL building after every rain shower have been provided by library staff.

However, despite the verbal support for Sint Maarten’s national heritage by (members of) Government as recently expressed in the local press, genuine interest in terms of concrete action to protect what is left of it, and/or to ensure that it will continue to be easily accessible to future generations, is non-existent .

This is very worrisome and highly unfortunate, especially when compared to the commitment to-, and actual investments in the preservation, promotion, and expression of national heritage in all its forms as displayed by governments on other islands of the Dutch-, and English-speaking Caribbean.

As a result of these developments, the Board of the PJL and the NHC Task Force have decided to urgently seek alternative solutions to ensure the temporary move of the PJL, the continuity of its services to the community of Sint Maarten, the protection of the health and safety of the PJL staff, and the construction of the NHC as soon as possible.

Besides having requested an urgent meeting with the Minister of ECYS and his advisors, contacts with potential sources of funding on Sint Maarten, the Caribbean region, and beyond have been initiated, and consultations with said institutions about their potential participation in the development of the NHC have commenced.

The Board of the PJL looks forward to the cooperation of the Government, and the continued support of the general public and all other supporters and stakeholders in moving forward with the plans for protecting the national heritage of Sint Maarten.

The Board of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

library wed18 pix2

library wed1810 pix3



SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Lions Club has launched the 2018 -2019 Lions International Peace Poster Contest. This year’s theme
“KINDNESS MATTERS” is open to all local school aged children between the ages 11 – 13.

The Lions International Peace Poster Contest is one of many Lions Club International Youth Programs that presents a unique and enriched educational experience for youth and contributes to further development of artistic skill, self-expression and personal growth; sharing ideas on peace and acknowledging youth positive efforts and achievements.

Each year more than 600,000 young people from many countries around the world participate in the Contest – since the initial Contest in 1988.

Contest Rules include:

Artwork must be no smaller than 13 inches by 20 inches (33 centimeters by 50 centimeters) and no larger than 20 inches by 24 inches (50 by 60 centimeters). The artwork may not be mat or framed.

Only one entry per student per year, and each entry must be the work of only one student. All artwork must be the individual student’s original creation. Duplications are not accepted.

Winner of this Peace Poster contest receives a trip for 2 to the award ceremony where he/she will receive a cash award of US $5000.00. Twenty-three merit award winners will also be selected from the entries and each will receive a certificate and a cash award of US$500.

In addition, the St. Maarten Lions Club will also be hosting a one-day workshop this coming Saturday, October 20th to assist participants with this project.

All children between the ages 11 – 13 interested in participating in this contest is invited to the workshop which will be held at the Lion’s Den in Sucker Garden 10am-12PM.

The St. Maarten Lions Club won the Peace Poster on the District level in 2015 and we would very much like for this year’s entrance to advance in the competition, ultimately willing the 2018-2019 competition.

Lion President Carmen Lake-Reyes along with Committee Chair Nina Diaz met with the teachers of Group 7 and 8 to explain the competition’s objective and rules.

Also discussed in the meeting were the other youth related projects which the club will be having this Lionistic year 2018-2019 relating to this year’s theme “Building a strong foundation youth by youth”


Free BirdSleuth Caribbean Training for Educators This Weekend

SINT MAARTEN/ST. MARTIN (FRENCH QUARTER) - On October 20th and 21st, the Les Fruits de Mer association is offering a free training for teachers and others who work with children.

The training is for the BirdSleuth Caribbean program. The training and materials are bilingual in English and French.  The September BirdSleuth training was fully booked, and many educators from that session are already using the activities.

“Imagine a school class having fun and learning about biology by playing a game of Bird Bingo or Habitat Scavenger Hunt,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes.

“We’re excited to make that possible by offering a free training program for teachers and educators. It can be used in the classroom and outdoors and it was made for the Caribbean.”

BirdSleuth Caribbean is a set of fun lessons and activities that uses birds to teach youth about nature and science. BirdSleuth Caribbean has been specially adapted for the region, so kids learn about the birds and habitats that they can see around them.

It's designed for students 9-13 years old. The program contains lessons, activities and learning games that can be done in the classroom and outdoors.

Les Fruits de Mer will be hosting free training in the BirdSleuth program with instructor Binkie van Es. Participants will enjoy hands-on training and receive materials to bring back to their class or youth group. On each training day, 4-5 different games and activities will be taught.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see kids fall in love with birds and science through the BirdSleuth program,” explained BirdSleuth instructor Binkie van Es. “Birds are the perfect gateway to a love of nature and a passion for learning. The activities are a lot of fun for teachers, too!”

The bilingual training will be at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House: October 20th and 21st, from 9am-1pm. It is free, and lunch will be served after each training session. If you are interested, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your spot in the free training.


Binkie van Es teaches a BirdSleuth Caribbean training session.


Sint Maarten Economy Real Growth Down by 8.4% in 2017

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Department of Statistics estimates that in 2017 real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth dropped by 8.4%. This decrease is not surprising given the anticipated negative impact of hurricane Irma on the economy of St. Maarten.

GDP in current prices decreased from ANG 1,919 million to ANG 1,815 million in 2017. Whereas, real GDP decreased from ANG 1,765 million in 2016 to ANG 1,616 million in 2017.

Values for real GDP are adjusted for inflation to remove the impact of changes in price levels, providing a more accurate figure of economic growth. The largest gross value-added declines in current prices were recorded for the industries ‘financial intermediation’ and ‘transport, storage and communication’, which decreased by 35% and 13%, respectively.

In contrast, the ‘health and social work’ and ‘other community, social and personal services activities’ industries recorded the largest gains in gross value added namely 37% and 29%, respectively.

Other major industries such as ‘trade’ and ‘hotels and restaurants’ also saw a drop in gross value added of 9% each. When looking at the GDP by expenditure in constant prices, there was a decrease in both exports and imports of 23% and 12% respectively.

However, there was an increase in both final consumption expenditure and capital formation. Overall, final consumption expenditure increased by 4.3% in which the household component (household final consumption expenditure) increased by 3% and the general government final consumption expenditure increased by 11%.

Lastly, gross capital formation increased from ANG 242 million in 2016 2 to ANG 268 million in 2017, an increase of 11%. Please note that these are preliminary figures and are subject to revision once the ongoing National Accounts Survey is complete.

This survey seeks to capture final data for the years 2016 and 2017 based on the final financial statements amongst the business sector.

Final estimates for 2016, 2017 and estimates for 2018 will be published in the second quarter of 2019.


SMMC to hosts a World Bank Project Launch series

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - SMMC is hosting a “Project Launch” with a series of workshops which are conducted by World Bank representatives from October 15 – 17. The workshops are aimed at providing guidance in the execution of the projects that will be accomplished using the grant funds.

SMMC is the recipient of a USD 25 million grant for the St. Maarten Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness project, which will contribute to the critical rehabilitation of the existing hospital and construction of a new and larger facility, more resilient to climate shocks.

The grant agreement is in effect and SMMC is entering in the execution phase of the St. Maarten Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness Project. With the workshops SMMC will be receiving information and hands-on training on how to navigate the World Bank processes efficiently.

During the opening meeting of the Project Launch, Minister Emil Lee stated: “The commencement of the St Maarten Hospital resiliency and preparedness project as marked by the commencement of the work to reinforce the current hospital roof makes this project a model project for St Maarten’s recovery process.  

Through the team effort of the Health Tripartite (VSA, SMMC and SZV) together with the assistance of the World Bank task team leaders, we have secured the funding for the hospital resilience project.  

As important as the funding itself, the timing of the funding is equally critical.  By financing the project from the first tranche, this saves the project lots of money in planning and efficiency. Step by step, we are delivering affordable quality healthcare, close to home!”

General Director of SMMC, Kees Klarenbeek stated: “SMMC is now in the execution phase of the project. With the support from our World Bank team we are confident we will effectively comply with the World Bank procedures in order to receive the funds for the different project items within a reasonable timeframe.

“The people of St. Maarten will be provided with access to a broader range of healthcare services on the island in a safer and more resilient facility, better prepared to deliver health services in case of another disaster. Hereby SMMC would like to thank the Dutch Government for making the Trust Fund possible. Also, our gratitude goes towards the excellent cooperation between Ministry of VSA, World Bank, SZV and the entire SMMC team” Klarenbeek concluded.

Chris Johnson, head of the Dutch Representation Office stated: “A new hospital and improved healthcare is crucial to Sint Maarten. The St. Maarten Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness Project serves as a great example of the type of projects that can be made possible with financing from the Trust Fund."

Carolyn Shelton, Task Team Leader and Senior Operations Officer for the World Bank stated: “We’re very pleased with the pace of detailed, technical project preparation and that the project is moving forward with implementation. This project will not only focus on a new building but will also improve the quality and scope of health services for the population of St. Maarten”.

Last week, Trust Fund Steering Committee members Marcel Gumbs and Frans Weekers accompanied by Netherlands Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Reconstruction Program Director Hans van der Stelt, were updated on the progress and plans for St. Maarten’s new general hospital and were pleased with the project.


Aqua Mania Adventures raises over $3000 for Breast Cancer Awareness

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Aqua Mania Adventures raised over $3000 with the Pink Sunset Sail held on Sunday September 30th for the Positive and the Elektralyets foundations.

The check presentation was held at Aqua Mania Adventures and handed over by Kristy Bishop to the representatives of the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations.

Breast cancer can be detected early and treated effectively. In the Americas, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. An estimated 462,000 women are newly diagnosed and almost 100,000 women die from breast cancer each year.

This is expected to increase by 34% in the Americas by 2030, if current trends continue.

In high income countries, organized screening programs with mammography have led to earlier diagnosis, and coupled with effective treatment, have led to reductions in breast cancer mortality.

There are many challenges, however in implementing such effective organized screening programs in limited resource settings. Therefore, raising awareness and understanding about breast cancer risks, early signs and symptoms and overall breast health awareness is an important part of a public health approach for breast cancer.

Join the October Breast Cancer Awareness month campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer and support women to reduce their breast cancer risks, be screened and seek medical attention, if a suspicious lump is detected.




SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Social & Health Insurances SZV will launch its AOV Pension Status Survey on Monday October 15th. Residents of Dutch Sint Maarten who are currently receiving AOV pension payments from SZV have an obligation to participate in the survey.

SZV is aiming to survey over 6000 persons in a period of six months. The survey period will end in March 2019. AOV recipients must participate in-person, present a valid Sint Maarten ID or passport.

Persons who are unable to participate due to medical indications can contact SZV to request a house-visit; persons on vacation abroad during the survey period should contact SZV to inform. There is the option to visit one of the two survey locations between 8:00 am – 4:00 pm from Monday – Saturday, based on the schedule - according to birth month.  

SZV is obligated by law to conduct compliance controls for the funds managed; recipients of AOV pension are requested to execute their civic duty by complying to participate, as is stated in Articles 34 and 35 of the National Ordinance AOV.

The survey is a compliance control method, which is not uncommon. SVB, the predecessor of SZV, also used to carry out the same type of survey on Sint Maarten, for the same purpose. For AOV recipients residing abroad, compliance controls are conducted in the form of recipients having to submit periodic ‘life certificates’ to SZV.

For recipients residing on Dutch Sint Maarten, this is not an option. Conducting a periodic survey such as this remedies this situation, while ensuring that both the SZV and the customer remain compliant.

The survey project offers several benefits to current and future pension recipients. Data collected will allow SZV to ensure that the funds are properly managed; registration of deaths and persons who have moved is often an outcome of such surveys.

Unfortunately, SZV is not always notified in a timely manner of these events. Recipients of AOV have an obligation to report changes in their civil status, address and contact information, this is not always adhered to by many.

Data collected also enables SZV to further execute its advisory function to Government as it pertains to legislation and programs designed for these target groups.

The survey information and schedule is available on the website and will be available through various communication channels. The survey locations will be: from Monday to Friday at the Senior Citizens Recreational Center in Hope Estate and on Saturday’s at the SZV office.

SZV will have an on-site service desk offering general information and the opportunity to schedule appointments for other services, such as insurance card renewals.

The schedule is summarized as follows:

  • If you are born in the months of July, August or September, please visit a survey location between October 15th to 27th
  • If you are born in the months of October, November or December, please visit a survey location between November 5th to 16th
  • If you are born in the months of January, February, March, please visit a survey location between January 28th - February 9th
  • If you are born in the months of April, May, June, please visit a survey location between March 18th – March 30th

Persons requiring additional information can visit the website or contact the SZV customer service. 


Waiting lists grow at academic hospitals as nurse shortages bite

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – An average of one in 10 beds are closed in some wards at the seven Dutch academic hospitals because of the shortage of qualified nursing staff, the NRC said on Friday.

Intensive care, accident and emergency units and operating theatres are also hard hit by the shortages, the paper said.

Diederik Gommers, head of the Erasmus MC’s intensive care unit told the NRC that 12 of the 44 beds are currently out of action, five because staff are sick and seven because of structural staff shortages.

‘Sometimes we are being forced to cancel acute heart operations because there are no beds. We can do that for a day, but no longer,’ he said. ‘And if someone dies because there are no beds, and I do not rule this out, then we will report it to the inspectorate.’

At Groningen’s UMCG, 90 out of 891 beds are closed, while in Maastricht, some 5% of beds are out of action.

At Amsterdam’s UMmc, three operating theatres are closed and at the city’s OLVG hospital, up to seven of the 25 operating theatres are closed at any given time.

‘We have the patients but not the personnel,’ a spokesman told the NRC. Nursing staff at teaching hospitals tend to earn less than at ordinary hospitals, which is one reason that nurses are moving out of the academic sector.

In addition, the shortage of affordable homes in Amsterdam and Utrecht is driving nursing staff away, the paper said. (DutchNews)


Pro-Piet activists who blocked motorway face community service

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Campaigners who blocked the A7 motorway with cars to stop anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators reaching last year’s Sinterklaas procession in Friesland, should be given community service sentences of up to 240 hours, the public prosecution service said on Friday.

In total, 34 people were charged with blocking the motorway and stopping a legal demonstration. One, Jenny Douwes who originally called for the demonstration on Facebook, has also been charged with sedition.

She should be given 240 hours community service and a three-month suspended sentence, the prosecutor said. The suspects have been appearing in court in groups of three or four since Monday to hear the evidence against them.

No-one has admitted responsibility for the action and no-one has shown remorse, which may impact on the final sentences, according to the AD’s analysis.

The Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) parade has been the focus of demonstrations in recent years against his companion Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, who is perceived in some quarters as a racist caricature.

‘Everyone has rights,’ the public prosecutor said, as he went through the charge sheet. ‘The key question is, what do you do about people you don’t agree with? And that is not what the suspects have done.’

‘This is not about Zwarte Piet but about the behaviour of people behind the blockade,’ he said. ‘Both their aim – to stop people demonstrating – and the means they used – blocking a motorway – are criminal offences.’ The court will publish its verdicts in November. (DutchNews)

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