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Rotary Sunset Initiates Breakfast Program

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In recognition of Maternal and Child Health month, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset initiated its first breakfast program at the Marie Genevieve de Weever School in an effort to tackle the ongoing concern of child hunger within the schools.

Rotary Sunset reached out to the Marie Genevieve de Weever School in order to ascertain the number of students who are not fortunate to walk with their lunches to school and who often have difficulty focusing in class as a result of them not having breakfast. It was heartbreaking to learn that there were at least 50+ students facing challenges with hunger on a daily basis. Rotary Sunset decided to initiate a breakfast program within the school to provide a daily breakfast for those students in need. Representatives of the Marie Genevieve de Weever School as well as Rotary Sunset gathered to sign the official Memorandum of Understanding, where both parties agreed to enter into an agreement where Rotary Sunset would provide funding to purchase the necessary food items to prepare the daily meals.

Proper nutrition among our children is essential to ensure healthy growth, proper organ formation and function, a strong immune system, and neurological and cognitive development. Child malnutrition is known to have an adverse effect on the cognitive function of children and despite global efforts to combat child hunger, it remains rampant in many undeveloped and developing countries. UNICEF estimates 3.1 million children die each year from under nutrition, which accounts for more than half of global child deaths. Under nutrition often leaves children vulnerable to numerous illnesses and diseases.

Sandra Mathew, Adjunct Manager of the Marie Genevieve de Weever School, gave a few words of thanks, “We would like to thank Rotary Sunset for initiating this much needed program for the students. This has become a major concern in our school and the teachers often times have to reach into their own pockets to ensure that their students get something to eat. We are truly grateful for your assistance and I am sure the students will greatly appreciate it.”

“An estimated 66 million primary school aged children attend classes hungry in many developing countries according to World Food Programme. This is an alarming amount and it is even more alarming to learn that numerous children on St. Maarten face the same ordeal. We understand the urgency to reach out to those in need in our communities, but it is not something we can do alone. Initiating this breakfast program will allow us to provide a nutritious breakfast for those students in need at the Marie Genevieve de Weever School; however, there are many more instances of child hunger and most of the schools on the island. Through this program we hope to inspire other business partners to get on board with this initiative so we can put an end to child hunger on our island” – President Jaida

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SMMC medical specialists attend Quality and Safety seminar

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) recently hosted a seminar at the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort titled ‘Change Towards Quality and Safety’ which was organized by SMMC’s Quality and Safety Department and facilitated by a leading quality expert from the Netherlands, Dr. Everard van Kemenade.

This seminar provided SMMC’s medical specialists, ER doctors, House Officer and Pharmacist new perceptions in the essence of Quality and Safety Management in times of change. It provided them with clarity on properly channeling their thoughts as tools to facilitate change.

The facilitator Dr. Everard van Kemenade, who is a trainer and consultant in Quality Management, stated: “I was very enthusiastic about the interaction between the medical staff, expressing the current situation of the hospital, its desired situation, the roadblocks and resources on the way”. He further added, “There is a need for further initiatives like this where ideas can emerge and it would be very fruitful for the development of the hospital on its way to excellence.”

The event was a success with over 30 persons in attendance for the day-long event. Tammie Papada, SMMC’s Quality and Safety Project Manager stated: “This was an excellent networking opportunity to involve SMMC medical specialists as our organization strives toward meeting Joint Commission International (JCI) standards, the highest standards of quality and safety recognition on an international level.”

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Minister Johnson welcomes FAM Trip from Holland

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT) the Honourable Stuart Johnson welcomed the first set of tour operators and bloggers from The Netherlands to St. Maarten Wednesday afternoon.

Mister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite and Marlon Beauperthuy led the group. The group is here to witness the island’s 50th Carnival Celebration and to gain useful insights and content which will be used to promote the destination internationally.

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MINISTRY WAITING FOR SVOBE TO SUBSTANTIATE CLAIM FOR MORE SUBSIDY

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Education Wycliffe Smith issued the following statement on Wednesday in connection with SVOBE.

“Last week Wednesday, April 17, 2019, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport was in court, once again, with the Stichting Voortgezet Onderwijs Bovenwindse Eilanden (SVOBE). Ever since the new subsidy system for schools was implemented, SVOBE has contested it, stating that they are not receiving sufficient finances to cover the personnel and operational costs of their schools. The new system, which is called the lump sum system, was implemented in 2010 when Sint Maarten obtained country status.

“Prior to 2010 schools were subsidized based on the “Vergoeding en Verantwooordingsstelsel”, known as the V&V System. Via the V&V System, schools were subsidized based on each item in their budget; and each budget item had to be accounted for at the end of the year. The lump sum system on the other hand, offers School Boards more flexibility as it pertains to the subsidy that they are granted. The lump sum system also offers School Boards less bureaucracy.

“It should be noted that the rationale behind the lump sum system is to reduce the amount of bureaucracy that was involved in financing secondary education, with the V&V system, prior to 10-10-10. As a result of the reduced bureaucracy and the flexibility that School Boards, and in this case SVOBE has acquired, with regard to the funds placed at its disposal, it is imperative that SVOBE provide proper accountability for the funds it receives.

“The formula to calculate the lump sum subsidy is based on the number of students in the school who are registered as of December of the previous school year. For example, for the calendar year 2018 you will see that in the Government’s budget, an amount of NAf. 17,093,101 was allocated to SVOBE. This was based on the number of students registered with SVOBE at that time. Now, in order for the Ministry to assess whether SVOBE has been spending the tax payer’s guilders in a correct and prudent manner, SVOBE is required to provide the Ministry with a proper audit of its financial statements.

“Unfortunately, since 10-10-10 SVOBE has not been able to provide the Ministry with a proper audit of its financial statements over the past years, going back to 2010. In February of 2014, SVOBE initiated a court case against the Government for loss of income due to the implementation of the lump sum system. The judge instructed both parties, SVOBE and Government, to seek an amical solution. Based on SVOBE’s claims that the lump sum causes it’s schools to have a financial short fall, the government advanced a payment of NAf. 2,276,153 for the period 2010 – 2014, pending the receipt of Foundation’s audited financial statements.

“However, when the parties could not reach a further amicable solution, the judge rendered an interim decision in April 2014. The verdict stated that Government should pay an additional NAf. 150.000 per month to SVOBE until a decision is taken by government. A Complaint Committee, consisting of members of the Department of Education as well as members of the SVOBE, was installed to discuss and resolve the points of contention.

“As a result of the Complaint Committee, the Ministry in 2015 amended the lump sum system extensively on the basis of an analysis of the lump sum system by SOAB. The complaints that had been made by SVOBE in the past were also taken into account during that exercise. In other words, the Government made certain adjustments in favor of SVOBE and took a decision as the judge had instructed. Yet, SVOBE also contested this decision.

“Meanwhile, the Government made monthly payments of NAf. 150.000 to SVOBE. In total 46 payments of NAf. 150.000, which came up to a grand total of NAf. 6,900,000. Together with the NAf. 2,276,153 the government had paid a total of NAf. 9,176,153 without having received the requested audited financial statements. According to the Ministry, with the payment of the amount of NAf. 9,176,153 the Government had over-compensated SVOBE.

“Hence, given the precarious financial situation that Government found itself in after hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Ministry informed SVOBE in November 2017 that the NAf. 150.000 would be discontinued as their cost over the school years 2011-2014 had been adequately compensated. In January 2018 the payment was stopped. It is important to mention that without a proper audit it is not be possible for the Ministry to objectively assess if SVOBE is indeed experiencing a significant financial deficit as it has been claiming for these past years.

“The Ministry is of the opinion that as a result of the amendments made to the lump sum system in 2015, that SVOBE is in fact enjoying a financial surplus. Hence, the urgent need for an audit, which SVOBE has failed to facilitate since 2010. Since 2015 the Ministry has informed SVOBE that a final settlement could only be established in line with the Minister’s decision of March 2015, based on audited financial reports.

“The Ministry also agreed to pay for a certified accounting firm to conduct the audit. The accounting firm attempted to audit the financial statement over 2010 – 2014. In March 2018, the accounting firm submitted its report indicating that there was insufficient audit evidence and that no supporting documents could be provided for the subsidy received from government over those years. SVOBE has requested that the payment of the additional monthly amount of NAf. 150.000 be reinstated.

“Government is willing to review SVOBE’s claims of a monthly financial short fall due to the discontinuation of the NAf. 150.000. However, to date, Government has yet to receive SVOBE’s audited financials for the years 2015-2017 in order to be able to substantiate SVOBE’s claim that the subsidy that they have been receiving has not been sufficient to cover their costs. Actually, from the perspective of the Ministry the recent discussions with SVOBE regarding the lump sum were progressing in a constructive manner.

“It therefore came as quite a surprise to be informed by the court that SVOBE had filed administrative injunction proceedings against the Minister of Education. Even though SVOBE has not objectively substantiated its claim that it continues to suffer a structural deficit, the Ministry was prepared to provide SVOBE an amount Naf. 50.000,- monthly in addition to the significant amounts SVOBE already receives from the Ministry.

“SVOBE received this offer in writing from the Ministry. For reasons unknown to the Ministry, SVOBE has failed to respond to this offer of Naf. 50.000,- additionally per month. SVOBE has instead without any previous announcement or warning, filed via court petition dated April 12th, 2019 administrative injunction proceedings. The hearing in these proceedings took place on Wednesday April 17th, 2019 before the court.

“SVOBE claimed before the court that it currently suffers a liquidity deficit to such an extent that a real chance exists that its bankruptcy would be sought. SVOBE also stated verbally during the hearing that it will have to close its doors within the coming months due to an acute liquidity shortage. In addition to its failure to present an audit report, SVOBE has not provided bank statements, nor a cash flow statement to the Ministry or the to court to support its allegation that it is underfunded and that it would not be able to meet its financial obligations within the coming months to such an extent that it would have to cease operating.

“These aspects were emphasized on behalf of the Ministry during the court hearing last week Wednesday. The court subsequently upon the request of the Ministry decided to suspend the hearing in the administrative injunction proceedings so that SVOBE can present the proper documentation as requested by the Ministry in the form of banks statements and a cash flow statement in order for the Ministry to be able to properly assess whether or not SVOBE finds itself in such a precarious financial situation that it would have to cease its operations within the coming months. Only after it has been determined on the basis of proper documentation that SVOBE is currently in an acute liquidity crises will a decision be made by the Ministry (or the court) if additional monthly liquidity support to SVOBE is necessary.”

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CPS closely monitoring global measles situation

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, continues to closely monitor the global measles situation as cases continue to climb based on the most recent information from the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO reports: “Measles cases have continued to climb into 2019. Preliminary global data shows that reported cases rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years.

“While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend. Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases.”

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause potentially serious illness. As measles remains endemic in most parts of the world, it can spread to any country, including those that have eliminated the disease.

Every un- or under-immunized person regardless of age is therefore at risk of contracting the disease; this is especially true in those countries where persistently low immunization rates increase the risk of a large outbreak with possible tragic consequences.

The WHO reports that: “Current outbreaks include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, causing many deaths – mostly among young children.

“Over recent months, spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States of America as well as Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.”

Countries should achieve and/or sustain at least 95% coverage with two doses of measles-containing vaccine to prevent circulation in the event of an importation of measles.

The WHO adds: “Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases, with the potential to be extremely severe. In 2017, the most recent year for which estimates are available, it caused close to 110 000 deaths. Even in high-income countries, complications result in hospitalization in up to a quarter of cases, and can lead to lifelong disability, from brain damage and blindness to hearing loss.”

Travelers who are not up to date with their vaccinations are at higher risk of contracting measles when in close contact with travelers from countries where the virus is still circulating.

CPS advises guardians and parents to check their children’s vaccination status to see whether they are up to date. Persons with fever or rash should consult their physician who would then alert CPS where the necessary surveillance actions can be taken.

If persons decide to travel, they should also check their vaccination status and to make use of every opportunity to get vaccinated according to the vaccination schedule. Consult your physician for additional information.

The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.

Other individuals who should get their vaccination status checked are, health care workers, pregnant women, pre-and exam class students, as well as groups at risks such as waste/garbage handlers, the Police, hotel and restaurant workers, and others to verify and update their vaccination status, particularly on Hepatitis B and Tetanus.

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40-Year old Scooter rider dies on the spot in traffic accident

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Police Traffic Department is presently investigating a tragic traffic accident involving a private vehicle and scooter, police announced late Thursday night.

The accident took place on Thursday April 18th at approximately 9.40 p.m. on A.J.C. Brouwers road in the vicinity of the round about on Cole Bay Hill. According to the report the male victim riding on a black scooter without license-plate coming from the direction of the round about collided head-on with a white private vehicle with license-plate P-6606 coming from the opposite direction.

As a result of the collision the male victim ended up under the vehicle the private vehicle. On the arrival of the Paramedics and the Fire Department the victim was not showing any signs of life.

Traffic on the A.J.C. Brouwers road was diverted for the Traffic Department to conduct their investigation. At this time, it is still unclear what the actual cause of the accident is. A medical doctor in the meanwhile has pronounced the death of the victim who has been identified with initials N.F.A. (40). The remains of the victim will be transported to a morgue. (Sint Maarten Police Report)

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Ki-mani Olivacce Recognised with a Paul Harris Fellow

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “It was with great pleasure that The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle recognized Ki-mani Olivacce with a Paul Harris Fellow for his work in the community with his initiative of the ‘Back to School Drive’,” Rotary Club Mid-Isle said in a statement on Thursday.

“Ki-mani started his ‘Back to School’ drive in 2016 when he saw students going to school without school bags and supplies and decided to help with getting them the supplies they needed for school. In 2016 he donated 300 school back packs, in 2017 he donated 350 back packs and in 2018 he donated 400 back packs and this year 2019 he would like to donate 500 Back packs.

“These back packs he splits into three sets: One set contained notebooks, highlighters, scientific calculator, geometry set, compass, ruler, sharpener,  eraser pencils, pens, pencil case and an agenda for high school students: the second set contained compositions books, ruler, colored pencils, pencil case, eraser,  sharpener, pencils, pens, an agenda, a binder with paper for elementary students and the last set for kindergarten children contained crayons, coloring books, pencils, lunch kit, and a small reusable water bottle. Over 1,000 students have benefitted from his initiative.  Mid Isle feels very privileged and proud to have been a part of ki- mani’s ‘Back to School Drive’ initiative.

“Ki-mani asked to speak to those present, the following are the words spoken to those in attendance by Ki-mani: Good night everyone. First, I would like to thank Rotary Mid Isle for this honor. I would like to thank them for their support through the three years with my back to school drive. When I started this drive, it was from my heart, I would like to continue contributing toward this well needed cause.

“This is my senior year and my plans are indeed to continue my studies in the US. However, I hope I will get the full support of the Rotary again this year. I will start this year’s drive in June. I hope that this year I can count on your support. I would like to thank the whole team for everything they have done for the back to school drive. Last but not least my parents and family, because without them I would not be the person I am today. Thank you’

“To help kick start his initiative this year Mid Isle presented Ki-Mani with five pack packs donated to thems by ‘Friends in Action’ and other school supplies donated to them by the KI Britannia foundation.”

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesdays at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

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Frederick presents Carnival official magazine to SCDF

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Creative Director of So Contagious Studious Cleon Frederick presented the first copies of ‘Tis Carnival magazine to the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) on Wednesday, marking a “publishing start” to the official magazine for St. Maarten Carnival. The free magazine is a collaborative effort between Frederick and the SCDF for Carnival 50 and beyond.

Frederick came up with the idea for a true promotional magazine in 2014 after producing a mini magazine for his Carnival concert. Five years later, he said he is happy to finally be able to publish a started version of what is intended to be a full blown Carnival promotional magazine that also pushes destination St. Maarten.

He explained that the intention is to publish the magazine in December or January every year to get it in the hands of tourists. “We want them to book to come back to Carnival. Carnival is the main focus of the magazine but Carnival also promotes destination St. Maarten. It’s a win-win for Carnival and St. Maarten,” Frederick said.

The magazines will be distributed throughout the island and in particular at the hotels. It is also available at the Carnival Village. “This first issue comes out in time for Carnival 50 and in time to compliment everything we are planning moving forward with marketing for Carnival. We jumped at the opportunity to collaborate on this project this year with the intention to see it grow. We want this to develop into the official magazine for St. Maarten Carnival with the cooperation of the private and public sectors. Our thanks to Cleon who has again proven to be a committed and dependable Carnival stakeholder,” President of the SCDF Alston Lourens said.

Frederick is also SCDF’s graphic designer and creator of the official Carnival logo with the brand “Come, Experience Life”. He also designed the special Carnival 50 logo.

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Creative Director of So Contagious Studious Cleon Frederick (right) Present the ‘Tis Carnival Magazine to President of the SCDF Alston Lourens.

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Prime Minister expresses dismay over fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Upon learning the news of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin expressed sadness over the incident.

“My thoughts are with the citizens of France and the worldwide community of the Catholic Church, it is very sad to see the Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames. This historic building symbolizes the strength and longevity of the Catholic faith and its believers”, said Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin.

The Notre dame Cathedral is one of the most notable monuments in Paris. This Catholic treasure is over 800 years old. It is located on a small island called the “Ile de la Cite” in the middle of the River Seine. The building of the cathedral was completed over the course of 200 years; it was started in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345.

Prime Minister Romeo Marlin concluded by saying, “Today we have lost an iconic symbol of strength and faith, I pray for the people of France and the Catholic Church as we await the next step for this irreplaceable edifice in city of Paris.”

PM LEONA MARLIN ROMEO

Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin

 

 

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ROTARY CLUB OF SINT MAARTEN HOSTS 32nd ANNUAL SENIORS LAGOON CRUISE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Saturday April 6, 2019, approximately 20 Rotarians from the Rotary Club of St. Maarten, along with 7 Interactors from Learning Unlimited Preparatory School and Milton Peters College, assembled at the Explorer boat in Simpson Bay, all with one goal in mind; to welcome, to appreciate and to entertain more than 140 seniors and to provide them with some outdoor adventure and fun. “This year marked the 32nd year this event has been held”, noted long-time event Chairman and Rotary Club of Sint Maarten Past President, Kishore Idnani.

According to Rotary Club President, John Caputo, “The annual senior citizen lagoon cruise, which was first started under the leadership of Past President Michael Ferrier, is now in its 32th year and, if anything, is more popular than ever before. More than 140 senior citizens from the White and Yellow Cross Foundation, the Home Away from Home Foundation, the St. Maarten Senior Citizens Recreational Foundation and Meals on Wheels enjoyed the lagoon cruise aboard the Explorer, along with fellow Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten, The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten- Mid Isle, and Interactors from Milton Peters College and Learning Unlimited”.

Music was provided by DJ Ruby, transportation was provided courtesy of Russell Bell, Guavaberry Emporium donated gifts for the seniors, International Liquors and Tobacco and Faustina Ledee, and Duty Free World both donated the beverages for the day, cake was provided by Carl and Son’s Unique Bakery, and each Rotarian provided one large dish of food for the seniors to enjoy, as well as serving them a great lunch aboard the Explorer during the lagoon cruise. Mark’s Place also provided logistical support.

According to incoming President-elect, Sherylle deHaarte, “The 2020 edition of the Senior’s Lagoon Cruise promises to be bigger and better than ever”.

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