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World Youth Skills Day Address by the Hon. Minister Wycliffe Smith

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In recognition of World Youth Skills Day, July 15 - for this year, the United Nations has chosen the theme “Learning to Learn for Life and Work”. Every honest vocation is worthy of pursuit. By learning a skill, the individual develops the ability to create a masterpiece or mend a broken one. Whatever the venture, one’s life and work will be significantly improved by experiencing the joy of learning a new skill.

Locally, through the different schools and institutions, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport encourages the learning of new skills and the development of those we have already. In school, this is done through varying programs and projects at the elementary level. At the secondary level, we encourage students to be trained in vocational areas as well as academics. Adult education in skills development is also made possible through the National Institute for Professional Advancement – NIPA. Everyone must be encouraged to use their hands and mind, maximising their vocational and academic opportunities. As long as there is life, one is never too old to learn.

As the Governing Program 2018-2022 outlines, this Ministry will be aiming to improve the current school curricula, pursuing increased employment opportunities for the youth, being innovative with presenting our culture within the communities as part of our tourism product, and promoting more “Made in Sint Maarten” products. The governing program is available via the Government’s website at

Sint Maarteners, learning skills is a part of our culture. From wire-bending to fishing, from sewing to decorating, from baking to catering, there is no limit to what we can learn and do. Our youth have both the heritage of skilled workmanship and the innovation of technological developments at their fingertips. Let us guide them into learning the skills of our fore-parents and being inventors of things that others can use. We must encourage everyone, young and old, to use their skills, talents and abilities for the sustainable development of our beloved Sint Maarten.


Scooter robbers attempt to rob 42-Year Old Man Near Airport/Maho Beach

MAHO - Detectives are presently investigating an attempted robbery which took place in the vicinity of the Princess Juliana International Airport on Sunday July 14th at approximately 19.00 p.m. police said on Monday.

According to the victim identified with initials J.G.C.A. (42) while riding on his scooter from the Maho Beach area towards the main building of PJIA (SXM Airport) he suddenly felt a very heavy thump against his left leg causing him to lose control of his scooter and falling to the ground.

This is when he noticed that two unknown men on another scooter stopped next to his scooter which was lying on the ground. The passenger of the other scooter stepped off and started to search the compartments of his scooter but did not find anything.

As a result of the fall the victim suffered several bruises to his body and complained of pain in his right knee and arm. The paramedics arrived on the scene and gave the victim medical treatment.

The victim was transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further care (Sint Maarten Police Force)


Shark expedition to the Saba Bank

SINT MAARTEN/SABA - An international expedition for shark research to the Saba Bank in the Dutch Caribbean is taking place under the leadership of the Dutch Elasmobranch Society (NEV), the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) and the Nature Foundation Sint Maarten (NFSM) from July 15 to 25.

Scientific projects will be carried out during this ten-day expedition with research focused on the shark species that occur in this part of the Caribbean Sea, including tiger sharks, silky sharks, nurse sharks, and Caribbean reef sharks. The overall goal of the research is to gain insight into the role that Saba Bank plays in the life cycle of the species that live here, knowledge that is essential to adequately protect sharks.

“The expedition offers a unique opportunity to conduct new research into the shark community on Saba Bank.” Explained Irene Kingma, expedition leader from the NEV.  “We have brought scientists from six countries together to help solve the big questions we still have about sharks in this unique area and to develop partnerships for future research.”

Space technology for tiger sharks

During the expedition, tiger sharks will be provided with tags equipped with a completely new satellite technology developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The space organization has developed an advanced technology that allows the tags to communicate with satellites in space in an innovative way allowing the tags to last much longer and collect much more data than tags currently used.

Preventing by-catch of nurse sharks

NEV and SCF work together with local fishermen to reduce the by-catch of nurse sharks in lobster traps. One essential element to achieve this is insight into the behaviour of sharks in and around the traps. Dr. Robert Nowicki of Mote Marine Lab developed a camera system that can record the behaviour of sharks near the traps for up to a week.

Connectivity between habitats of Caribbean sharks

Between 2015 and 2018, a number of silky sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and nurse sharks were equipped with an acoustic tag to find out more about how these species utilise the area and on the connectivity between different Caribbean habitats. To add to this research Guido Leurs from the University of Groningen will collect samples of Caribbean reef and nurse sharks to analyse diet and age of the sharks. Combined with the knowledge from the tagging program this will offer us much more insight into the role the Saba Bank plays in the life cycle of these sharks.

Stress levels of sharks in captivity

Blood samples will be taken from all sharks caught to determine the level of stress hormones in their systems. Based on this, the researchers, led by James Thorburn of St. Andrews University in Scotland, will determine how much stress the animals experience when they are examined for the different experiments. This information can be used to make the catch and research process as efficient as possible so that the animals are not adversely affected by the procedures.

Updates on the expedition will be posted daily on the FacebookInstagram and Twitter pages of Save our Sharks. Blogs about the expedition will also appear onDuikenInBeeld (in Dutch) and on Southern Fried Science

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K1 DIRECT Rounds Off Supply Chain Management Training

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – K1 Britannia Foundation’s Disaster Relief and Crisis Team – K1 DIRECT – in collaboration with the Government of Sint Maarten have rounded off a four-day End-2-End Supply Chain Management Training which they hosted and organized and was facilitated by World Food Programme (WFP) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The training brought together valuable partners in disaster and supply chain management, where organizations presented their Business Continuity plans and disaster response capabilities, participated in supply chain, logistics and inventory management activities, and discussed collaboration and long-term agreements for disaster response within the region.

Approximately 40 persons attended the training from various sectors including local Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), Non-profit organizations, international and local private sector partner organizations, representatives of other islands and law enforcement; such as the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labor, Government Affairs, Customs, Dutch Military, Red Cross, NV GEBE, Tropical Shipping, DHL, Maersk, Port Sint Maarten, and Princess Juliana International Airport.

Iris Hakkens, K1 DIRECT Program Manager stated, “Upon receiving the proposal of the program from WFP, we could already see the importance of streamlining the process of requesting to delivering disaster relief goods. The representatives of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and ESF 7, without whom this training would not have been possible, also recognized this and ensured that relevant stakeholders were invited to the table to share their plans and come to a consensus on End To End Supply chain management. This workshop highlighted each stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities in the process, and will serve as a blueprint for how procedures should be followed in emergencies.”

The training included presentations of the phases of the disaster cycle where participants grasped an understanding of preparedness levels and key tasks to be completed and repeated for up to 6 weeks after a disaster. In addition, presentations were given by Maersk, WFP, CDEMA, DHL, Rene Savelsbergh, as an expert on civil military collaboration, and others who shared their support/relief services, plans and logistic capabilities.

The training consisted of many group activities, most of which revolved around disaster management from 5 days before an impending category 4 hurricane up to response 72 hours after impact for a fictional island, similar to St. Maarten.

Pauline Kauffmann, Advisor Disaster Management, Saba, applauded the training mentioning, “I loved the training because [it] brought together more stakeholders than usual, as well as private sector organizations, that are really working together. We were able to gain some insight of their operations. We all experienced Irma in some shape or form, so it was important we were all able to have this training, elaborating on the different elements and the actors who play a role in a disaster as well.”

Joy Arnell, Coordinator of ESF7 and Priya Thirumur of K1 also gave a presentation on the key undertakings that must be in place for the preparation, immediate aftermath and long-term response of a disaster. Arnell & Thirumur hosted the presentation to be interactive, so that stakeholders, such as NV GEBE and others, were able to share their capacities and contingency plans, as this information will be crucial in knowing what and when to request outside assistance- one of the first steps in the end2end supply chain.

The participants in the training learnt that formulating commitments, such as long-term agreements & Memorandum of Understandings will ultimately save a lot of time and improve efficiency after disasters.

Clive Richardson, EOC Disaster Coordinator expressed his enthusiasm for his participation and co-organization in the training stating, “It is recognized that the End-to-End World Food Programme training is something that our community definitely needs. It highlights that we should reconstruct the process in Sint Maarten and ensure that the delivery and distribution of relief goods happens in an effective and efficient manner. We really applaud all persons who participated and look forward to structuring and implementing this into practice as soon as possible.”

World Food Programme and CDEMA were great partners for this training.  Frank Cawkwell, Head of Supply Chain, World Food Programme (Barbados) expressed his gratitude and overall impression of the participants at the training saying “Thank you to the Government of St Maarten, the Emergency Response Teams and K1 for their indulgence during the E2E Supply Chain Training. However, most of all, for the inclusion and warm welcome into their Humanitarian resilience and response family. The mutual respect and desire for enhanced capabilities in advance of and during emergencies was evident in abundance.“

This training served as a platform for discussion and a starting point for collaboration between the private sector, NGO’s and Government alike.

Priya Thirumur Co-founder of K1 Britannia Foundation reflected, “Preparedness is a team sport, and it was nice to see all the different departments of government, private sector and non-profit organizations come together to brainstorm, share knowledge and ideas, share challenges to be able to create a starting point for setting procedures and how to conduct the end2end supply chain on St. Maarten.  It was a great step to collaboration and we look forward to continuing to grow and focus on preparedness as a country.”

K1 DIRECT along with its founding sponsors, Carnival Cruise Line and the Dutch Disaster Fund, would like to thank World Food Programme and Government of Sint Maarten who helped to make this training course possible.

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Community Development (VSA), Red Cross, DHL, and Customs working together during the training.





CPS launches Breastfeeding Photo Competition

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) an executing department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, in connection with World Breastfeeding Week, which is from August 1-7, CPS has launched a competition in search of breastfeeding photos.

This is the fourth annual breastfeeding photo competition that CPS has organized. The goal of the competition is to enhance the beauty surrounding breastfeeding, and to encourage mothers and enlighten them about the importance of breastfeeding.

The deadline for submission of photos is August 14. Photo’s should be submitted to the following email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The participants should include the following information along with their submission in their email: Name; Telephone number; Description of photo and why you chose to breastfeed; One image of you and your baby breastfeeding.

Rules for submission: Photographs must not be older than two-years; Pictures must be submitted by the mother or partner; Watermarks are not acceptable; Pictures submitted after August 14, 2019 will be disqualified; Pictures will be judged

For additional information, you can call Section Youth Health Care at 721-542-3003.  

The 2019 theme of World Breastfeeding Week is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding.” This international theme was chosen to be inclusive of all types of parents in today’s world with the focus on supporting both parents to be empowered which is vital in order to realize their breastfeeding goals.


Ten Fire Fighters Pass Masks Maintenance Course

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Fire Department has another accomplishment; ten Fire Fighters attended and completed a five-day training course, from July 1-5, on the maintenance of the Air Breathing Mask, which is linked to the Breathing Apparatus System (BAS). The course was paid for by the National Recovery and Program Bureau (NRPB).

These BASs are the two-part devices that protect the fire fighters from inhaling smoke or any other hazardous substances when fighting a fire or engaging in any type of activity that exposes the men or women in uniform.

The Fire Department Chief Clive Richardson said that the department is very proud of the fire fighters who recently completed this course on St. Maarten. We are pleased with their accomplishment. This course makes the team more independent from external outsourcing and it saves the department on maintenance cost, Richardson reportedly said.

The course was taught by the Dräger Academy, based in The Netherlands, who are the makers of Dräger manufacturers medical and safety technology products.

By completing this level 4 course, the Fire Department can maintain its own equipment and therefore Government does not have to spend extra amounts on sending these firefighting tools to be fixed and/or cleaned.

The Fire Department would like to extend hearty congratulations to this group for their hard work and dedication.

These are the names of the fire fighters:

  1. Christopher Schoop
  2. Jhonatan Thewet
  3. Thomas Kito
  4. Sergio Bryson
  5. Jamal Hodge
  6. Michael Hodge
  7. Karl De Palm
  8. Ashley Marlin
  9. Eugene Simmons
  10. Dennis Pantophlet

The Fire Department can be reached at 543-1316 or their emergency other number 919.


BEYOND Kultura closes off STORYTELLING Program by presenting Certificates

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Beyond Kultura Events Foundation (BKE) has closed off its STORYTELLING part of the Storytelling & Reading-EXPRESSIONS Program, with a Certificates Ceremony last Sunday at Café Axum in Philipsburg.

“After convincing the sponsors about the importance of such program for our community, we took off with the Storytelling Course to 14 participants, mainly teachers, to get the basic training in how to create stories, using their own inner source, and how to use the right techniques to tell the stories to children. This serves the aim of BKE to enhance the listening skills of mainly children, which is fundamental to comprehend and understand stories.

“12 out of the 14 participants have accomplished this Beyond Kultura Storytelling program to develop and tell stories to children from 3 to 13 years old, and to enhance their listening skills.

“They have been giving them fun in listening to stories. Some of the storytellers have been telling stories in English, some in Dutch and one of them even in Spanish, to reach as much as possible children throughout our community with this storytelling program. Beyond Kultura has reached more or less 4,000 children with this storytelling program for the last 3 months,” according to a statement from BKE.

Storytelling certificates

“The 12 certificated Storytellers are equipped with the Basic techniques of Storytelling after a weekend training ‘Storytelling’ and the visiting of entities like Community Centers or Afternoon School Programs, schools and a Children home, where each of them have been telling their own created stories to children in 10 sessions.

“Part of the training was also, to show their organizing talents and children coaching skills by organizing the ‘Kids Night Out’ of 2019, which took place last Saturday in the Philipsburg Cultural Center.

“The storytellers were evaluated and coached during their assignments. Those coaches were Yvonne Dick, Edna Rijkaard, Renate Sluisdom, Ingrid Holaman and Loekie Morales. Teacher-Instructor Diana Lebacs has come over from Curaꞔao to finalize the evaluations on the Kids Night Out assignments of the candidate storytellers.”

‘We are most happy to present to Sint Maarten our first certificated storytellers, who can serve our community with the best own produced stories, they can tell on events. They can also serve the Library and the schools during for example a Children book week or Story telling week,’ Loekie Morales stated.

“Parliament member and former Minister of Education-Culture-Youth and Sports, Silveria Jacobs, has handed over the Storytelling certificates to the storytellers.

“Fleur Hermanides (representative Samenwerkende Fondsen) and Marjan de Visser (representative of Nederlandse Taal Unie) were present at the Certificate ceremony, when the storytellers have shared their experiences they had during their assignments.

“Mrs. Jacobs, Diana Lebacs, the representatives of our Sponsors and the chairlady of Beyond Kultura Events Foundation, Loekie Morales have been saying words of encouragement to the storytellers for their future performances,” BKE said on Tuesday.

Loekie Morales, chair of BKE says ‘I am very happy with the success of this Storytelling project. It is nog only the figure 86% passing of candidates for the basic requirements of being a storyteller (12 of the 14 candidates), but also the fact that we have reached so many children with beautiful stories and have gotten a 100% happy faces with children and adults, when telling our stories.’

‘Today we can congratulate all our storytellers for showing perseverance in order to reach this milestone. We can thank all the participated entities like the primary schools, the afternoon activity school programs, the I Can Foundation and the Community centers of Sint Peters and Belvedere, for getting on board and facilitate our process,’ Rita Aikman, the treasurer of BKE says.

‘We could not reach so far without the financial support of the funding agencies like the Cooperative Funds Caribbean (Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben), The Prins Bernhard Cultural Fund Caribbean and the Dutch Literacy Funding Agency (De Nederlandse Taal Unie). We thank them wholeheartedly for believing in the aim of this project and for putting moneys, guidance and efforts in such an important project for Sint Maarten,’ Morales says. 

‘Finally, if you need storytellers, you can reach out to Beyond Kultura Events Foundation and we can provide you of dedicated storytellers,’ Morales concluded.


Police seeks community assistance after violent robbery incident

RETREAT ESTATE - The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) Detectives are at this time also investigating a robbery with the use of violence which took place on Monday July 8th after 8.00 p.m. in the Retreat Estate and Sint Peters area, police said in a report on Tuesday.

According to reports the incident took place while the victim who is a Venezuelan national was on his way home riding his scooter with groceries from a supermarket in the area. He was suddenly attacked by an unknown person who ran out of the dark, wearing black clothing and a hoodie over his head.

This person struck the victim to the side of his head at which time he temporarily lost consciousness and control of his scooter and fell to the ground. While regaining consciousness the victim could see an unknown person who started his scooter and drove off with it.

Shortly after the victim got up and walked to his home from where the police, detectives and ambulance were called. The victim was treated on the scene by paramedics. The victim suffered numerous bruises to his head, arms and legs. He was unable to identify if a weapon was involved. This investigation is ongoing.

The Police Department is informing the community of the ongoing situation in the Sint Peters area. This situation has raised much concern in the community. The Police Department is warning those youngsters who are involved in these criminal activities to refrain from doing so. This type of behavior shines a negative light on the country Sint Maarten, police said in their Tuesday statement.

The Police Department is also asking the community to share any information they have concerning these ongoing investigations. It is in the benefit of all the community to do its part in helping to solve these cases, in its appeal to the community on Tuesday. If you have any information please call 54-22222 ext. 203/204/ 205, the anonymous tip- live # 9300 or call. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


Maho Chinese contractors volunteer and repair three homes

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation in collaboration with the group of Chinese contractors who had been working at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino rolled up their sleeves on their day off on June 7, to assist three families in St. Maarten with critical repair works to their homes. 

One of the homes repaired belonged to a single mother and her son, who resides on Dollisson Road. The house was damaged by Hurricane Irma which devastated the island on September 6, 2017. Prior to the repairs, whenever it rained, the mother and her son had to go by friends or family to sleep as the home would be inundated with water. They were unable to repair their roof due to financial constraints. The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation requested permission from the landowner to remove the old zinc sheets and tarpaulin that had been on the roof and replace it with new zinc sheets. A total of four volunteers from the Maho Group used their holiday (Dragon Boat Festival) to assist this family. The volunteers were very grateful for the opportunity given to assist in the St. Maarten community yet again, before they left the island at the end of June. 

The second home repaired was located at Fort Willem Hill. A separate group of four Maho contractors assisted to repair the home of a diabetic resident. The resident is unable to work as one of his feet is amputated due to his diabetic condition. Hurricane Irma left his home leaking all over and he too has been unable to conduct repairs due financial constraints.  The owner of the home was very appreciated for the help from the volunteers. The volunteers not only repaired the roof, they also cleaned up garbage that had been plied up at the resident’s front door. 

The third home that was repaired is located on Soualiga Road on Pond Island. The resident for this home lives in a container due to the state of disrepair to his home. The resident is paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident several years ago and is currently in Colombia to treat a condition that he developed from sitting too extensively. His home has no GEBE-powered electricity and the resident uses solar panels to power one light and a refrigerator. A separate group of six Maho Group volunteers helped the diabetic resident to repair the roof of his home. 

The families of all three homes that had been repaired are grateful and thankful for the assistance of the volunteers for their kind gestures, hard work and professionalism in repairing their homes and bringing smiles to their faces as the hurricane season has started. 

One of the families said it has been two years that she has been suffering in her own home due to the damages sustained during Irma and she is grateful to Tzu Chi and its founder Master Cheng Yen for their assistance in facilitating the repairs to her home.  

Another family said just the night before the volunteers came, they could not sleep in their home because it rained, and a lot of water was entering the home. The family said they are now happy to be able to stay and sleep in their home whether it rains or not due to the repair to the roof. 

The resident in the third home said since hurricane Irma went with the roof, he was unable to fix it until the assistance of Tzu Chi and the volunteers for which he is very grateful. 

Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung expressed sincere gratitude to the volunteers for their benevolence in assisting the families and making them much more comfortable in their homes and the families involved for graciously accepting the assistance.   

The volunteers were happy to assist and give back something to St. Maarten, which has been their temporary home for several months as they worked on rebuilding the destroyed Maho Group, which recently reopened. The contractors left the country and returned to their homes at the end of June.

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WEATHER WATCH: Tropical Storm Barry to form mid-week

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – The second named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to form this week in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to Crown Weather, “I fully expect to see Tropical Storm Barry develop in the northern Gulf of Mexico by about Wednesday or Thursday. In addition, this system is expected to impact the Gulf Coast including possibly the upper Texas coast, coastal Louisiana, coastal Mississippi, coastal Alabama and possibly parts of the Florida Panhandle with squalls of heavy rain & gusty winds. It should be noted that the threat from this system has increased for southeast Texas, the upper Texas coast and the Louisiana coast since yesterday.

“A trough of low pressure, designated Invest 92-L by the National Hurricane Center, is currently located from central Alabama into central Georgia. Analysis indicates that there is a strong amount of spin associated with this system and it is moving nearly due south this morning.

“I do think that it will enter the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, Florida this evening and then begin to develop as we get into Tuesday and Wednesday. There is a very low amount of wind shear across much of the Gulf of Mexico and it appears that Invest 92-L will likely be able to strengthen within this favorable environment.”


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