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Alpha team arrests one suspect and confiscate firearm and ammunition

SINT MAARTEN (POINT BLANCHE) - As part of an ongoing investigation, the Alpha Team arrested a man with the initials L.B.C. (38) on August 9, 2022, for involvement in narcotics smuggling which occurred on July 26, 2022, and on August 9, 2022, at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facilities.

In relation to this, the home of the suspect L.B.C. was subject to a search during which a firearm, ammunition and other relevant items were confiscated as part of the ongoing investigation.

The suspect remains in police custody pending further investigation.

The Alpha Team is a multidisciplinary team that is comprised of the Police Department (KPSM), the Customs Department, the Immigration Department, the Koninklijke Marechaussee and the Coast Guard. (KPSM)

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Proposed location of Marion artificial reef identified, to be placed in Man of War Shoal Marine Park

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - After intensive consultation with stakeholders, the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) is in the process of finalizing arrangements to sink the salvaged 27-meter-long tugboat Marion in the Man of War Shoal Marine Park to create an artificial reef and dive site. 

Since January 2022, the NRPB has held discussions with a variety of stakeholders, including dive operators, the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation, and the Inspectorate of Shipping and Maritime Affairs of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT).

Four (4) potential sites were originally proposed for the artificial reef. As a result of the stakeholders’ feedback and the criteria set forth by the environmental and social guidelines of the World Bank and the Government of Sint Maarten, it was decided to sink the Marion at a location called “Tiegland” in the Man of War Shoal Marine Park.

Most stakeholders preferred Tiegland for two main reasons. Firstly, the site is in the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, which is the only marine protected area in Sint Maarten’s territorial waters. Secondly, the site will be at the relatively shallow depth of 23 meters, making it accessible for divers across all skill levels.

Approximately three (3) nautical miles south of Great Bay, the Man of War Shoal Marine Park is a sanctuary for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, coral reefs, and a wide array of fish. The marine park is managed by the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation.

The sinking of the Marion will be the capstone of the shipwreck removal activity of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund’s Emergency Debris Management Project (EDMP). Under this specific activity, exactly 139 damaged vessels, including the Marion, were removed from the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

Completed in December 2021, this activity was managed by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten, executed by contractor KMS N.V., and supervised by EOS Maritime J.V. with the support of Sint Maarten Nature Foundation. All waste materials from the shipwreck salvaging activity were exported abroad for environmentally friendly reuse or disposal. This was a key aspect of the activity, as one of its overarching goals was to prevent waste from ending up in Sint Maarten’s waste disposal sites.

From a selection of potentially suitable shipwrecks, the Marion was chosen to be transformed into an artificial reef because of her sound structural integrity, manageable size, and dense steel hull. The combination of these factors makes the Marion an ideal candidate to be colonized by soft corals, sponges, barnacles, and marine plants.

The Marion’s sinking is currently estimated to take place in the last quarter of 2022. This is dependent on good weather conditions and clearance from the relevant authorities.

Once sunk, it is expected that the Marion will, overtime, become a thriving ecosystem, thereby providing a habitat for a wide variety of aquatic flora and fauna. It will also be an active dive site, which will provide more options for recreational divers and increase the diversity of Sint Maarten’s tourism product.

Artificial reefs also serve as nurseries to many fish species by providing a safe and undisturbed space for fish to reproduce and grow to adulthood. Although fishing is not permitted in the marine park because of its protected status, the Marion can thus benefit the fishing industry in the long-term.

“The ‘Marion’ is being given a new life as it transitions from a ship that was damaged and wrecked in Hurricane Irma to an artificial reef that will contribute to the environment and the economy for years to come. The decision to create this artificial reef is another example of the positive impact that the Trust Fund is having on the environment, economy, and livelihood of Sint Maarten and its residents. Through the NRPB, on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten, we are not only restoring and repairing what was destroyed during the hurricane, but we are consistently looking to build and shape the resilience of our economy, society, and natural environment,” said NRPB Director Claret Connor.

For more information about the Marion, please visit www.nrpbsxm.org/shipwrecks. Persons with additional questions or inquiries can send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Sint Maarten Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

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JAMAICANS ON ST. MAARTEN CELEBRATE JAMAICA’S 60 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - A group of Jamaicans on St. Maarten celebrated their native land’s 60th Anniversary of Independence with a Thanksgiving Church Service at the Victory Temple Church of God of Prophecy in Ebenezer on Sunday, July 31st, 2022.

Jamaica’s Independence Day was on Saturday August 6th. The service was an eclectic blend of the spiritual songs with a dynamic Worship Team led by Mrs. Deniese Hyman who had the crowd rocking to some old Gospel Songs accompanied by the talented Jamaican band. Opening Prayer, Cultural Expressions of Jamaica through folklore songs, poems, skits and a short sermon, followed after.

The keynote message was delivered by Mr. Andre Huie, a Jamaican Pastor and Journalist who lived on St. Maarten before migrating to St. Kitts and Nevis, where he currently resides. He used the story of the Children of Israel in scripture, taken form Exodus 14:1-14 and juxtaposed it with the story of Jamaica’s History from Slavery to Independence. He admonished the audience to strive for greatness, as Jamaicans, and Caribbean people in general are destined to do great things. On hand to witness the event was Minister of Education Youth Culture and Sports Hon. Rodolphe Samuel, who totally enjoyed the program to its entirety.

The rest of the service comprised folklore performances. The Restoration Dance Group, led by Miss Cathy Carbon, performed the song: “Can’t be the only one” from reggae gospel artist Samuel

Medas, decked in their black dress and gold waistbands representing two of the colours of the Jamaican flag.

This was followed by a dub poem selection from Evangelist Lydia, a Jamaican residing on St. Maarten entitled: “Re-Igniting The Nation for Geatness", based on the theme of the Jamaica 60 celebrations. The pick of the performances of the night, however, was a skit by Jamtilliean Children—children born on St. Maarten to Jamaican parents.

The children performed in the different accents of nationalities prominent on St. Maarten: French, English (UK), Indian, Trinidadian etc. in response to the question "Tell Aunty Sheena how much you know about Jamaica". This was led by Miss Lashenia Maundy who was decked out in The Traditional Folklore Bandana dress, which depicted Jamaica's Folkloric Icon The late, Honourable, Dr. Louise

Bennett Coverely. The audience erupted in laughter as the children nailed the accents “down to a T.” They each expressed their knowledge of Jamaica by providing a tidbit of the country. The reflection of the different nationalities through the accents also reflects Jamaica’s motto: 'Out of Many, One People'

Meanwhile, Faith Victorious Ministries, a church on St. Maarten performed the skit “Carry Mi Ackee,” based on a famous Jamaican folk song, which evoked memories of nostalgia among the mostly Jamaican audience. That was followed by Miss Erica Davis performing a poem from Jamaica’s cultural icon Louise Bennet entitled “Nuh Lickle Twang.” Then, a medley of folk songs led by Mrs. Lorraine Sweeney and Company climaxed the evening with some of Jamaica’s finest folk songs such as “Sammy Dead,” “Mouta Massy Liza” and “Hol’ im Joe.”

Convener and Visionarie of the event Miss Beverly Mungo, a very patriotic Jamaican who for several years have been hosting similar Jamaican Independence Thanksgiving Services here on St. Maarten, delivered the Vote of Thanks and profusely thanked all those who made the event possible. She expressed immense gratitude to the leaders of Victory Temple for accommodating the function and to those who assisted in the planning of the event.

“On behalf of The Jamaican Diaspora. "I would like to say first Thanks, glory, honor and praise to our Heavenly Father. A heartfelt gratitude to all who attended the Jamaican 60th Thanksgiving Independence Service last Sunday evening at the Victory Temple Church, Pastored by Bishop Michael and Mrs Annetta Greenaway in Weymouth Hill. It could not have been the success it was, without your presence,” she said. The event was ably chaired by Mr. Lenworth Wilson Jr., a prominent Jamaican who has been residing on St. Maarten for several years.

Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain on August 6, 1962.

jam natl day min ecys rs pix3

Minister of Culture Hon. Rodolphe Samuel

jam natl day pix1

jam natl day pix2

 

 

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URSM extends Education Message. Party busy with Education Vision

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “On behalf of the board and members of URSM, I would like to wish our students, their parents, and our teachers all the best for this new year. As the leader of URSM, I am happy that our students can once again follow in-person classes without the challenges they faced over the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Not only is this sense of normalcy critical for our students, but it also alleviates the stress the online and in some cases dual learning system caused on our teachers.”, stated Dr. Mercelina, Leader of the United Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) on Wednesday in a press statement.

Dr. Mercelina continued: “While seeing all the happy faces back in school, I cannot help but reflect on the current state of education in Sint Maarten. Questions that come to mind are: what has been the effect of the pandemic on the individual results of our students over the past two years? Do the schoolboards have an idea as to this impact on our students?

“Has the Ministry of Education assessed this? How do the "Irma & Covid-19" students measure to the previous cohort? Not to mention the mental health of students and staff. Lastly, a more important question I ask myself is how much attention have we given the education sector since 10/10/10?.”

“As the leader of URSM, I am of the opinion that we have neglected this critical sector. As a party, we have thought long and hard about the Education system our children deserve. While it is easy to criticize, we recognize the importance of actually proposing solutions. For one, we believe it is high time to review and amend the current methods used to calculate and approve subsidies for schools. While we have a law on Compulsory Education, the Government does not guarantee education for all.

“Furthermore, the current subsidy method used by the Ministry of Education places its focus predominantly on the number of students per school. In other words, the more students registered at a school the higher the number of funds received by the school. Little emphasis is placed on ensuring the actual quality standards of Education applied by the respective schools are met.

“A specific budget for periodic evaluation of curriculum is not part of this lump sum, imagine our children are currently taught based on a curriculum that was formulated more than thirty years ago. The recognition of children with learning disabilities is nowhere to be found in this system, if it were, we would have a public school catering to special needs children up to age 16 or 18, and/or we would subsidize those private institutions that do cater to such. The current methods also fail to highlight the importance of regular training for teachers.”

The URSM is finalizing its overall vision for Education which will outline solutions to address the ongoing challenges facing our country's educational system, URSM Leader Dr. Luc Mercelina said on Wednesday.

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Winners Announced of WBW 5th Annual Breastfeeding Photo Contest

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – World Breastfeeding Week 2022 (WBW) that took place from Monday, August 1 to 7 under the theme, “Step up for Breastfeeding. Educate and Support” has concluded.

Section Youth Health Care which falls under the Collective Prevention Service (CPS), spearheaded Sint Maarten’s participation.

On Saturday, August 6, at the Mom to Mom Sit and Chat session, the winners of the 5th Annual Breastfeeding Photo Contest were announced and they received their prizes and gift certificates.

The winner of the photo contest was Danique Knaap, second runner-up Stacey Fiacre, third runner-up Orianda Hoendervangers, and the fourth participant was Kirsty Lo Moro.

The first activity that kicked off YHC activities for WBW 2022 was the organization of free Lactation Consultations that started on May 12.

The lactation consultation was done in collaboration with Women’s Health Services N.V. The free lactation consultation was for moms in their second trimester and for moms with questions about breastfeeding.

The second activity was launched in June and was the 5th Annual Breastfeeding Photo Contest. Other activities included radio interviews, and a Mom to Mom Sip-n-Chat Session.

“Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival,” the World Health Organization (WHO) says. It further adds, “Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses.

“Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.

“Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers,” the WHO concludes.

Section YHC which falls under CPS, says that WBW activities were part of CPSs annual calendar of health observances which is aimed at promoting health related issues and topics on a monthly basis.

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WITU makes an urgent plea to PM Jacobs via letter about vacation allowance

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) submitted a letter addressed to the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs titled, “Discrimination created among the teachers with non-payment of vacation allowance to subsidize school.”

President of the WITU Stuart Johnson stated in his letter, “As President of the WITU, I would like to bring the following to your attention requesting your intervention in this matter to bring equality, peace, and tranquility among the teaching fraternity in our beloved country.

As we stand at the beginning of the new school year 2022-2023, the board of the WITU is deeply concerned about the fact that to date the teaching and non-teaching staff employed at the various Government-subsidized schools boards with the exception of the Protestant Christian Schools (3%), have not received their vacation allowance as yet.”

Johnson continued in his letter stating, “In representing and looking after the best interest of all concerned, WITU held various meetings with the stakeholders to come to a consensus and solution as it pertains the vacation allowance that was paid since June 15th, 2022, to civil servants and employees of the public education.

“Needless to say, that this has created a sense of discrimination and lack of equality in the education field to teaching and non-teaching staff.

Even though WITU can empathize with the school boards, the fact is that one school board has paid 3%. Additionally, the remaining school boards can pay the full 6% once they receive the written instruction from the Council of Ministers to conduct this payment opposed to the 12.5% law that is not retracted as yet is creating much labor unrest and demotivation,” Johnson stated.

He added, “A precedence has been set for this payment and although school boards are not to be solely blamed, at the end of it all WITU is the key representative of the teaching and non-teaching staff.”

“Since the school boards are legally accountable for their personnel expenditure, it cannot be that after receiving a letter from the Ministry of Education couple of months ago with a clear semblance of an instruction, now that there is a change of execution of the law that this has not been communicated to one single school board in writing,” Johnson said.

“The Board of the WITU is therefore urgently appealing to you to end this discrimination by whatever form of communication that would bring a solution in this matter,” Johnson concluded. 

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Congratulatory Remarks by Governor Holiday on the 90th Anniversary of the PMIA

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday delivered the congratulatory remarks on August 6 on the occasion of the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Philipsburg Mutual Improvement Association (PMIA).

His remarks are as follows: 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening

And a special good evening to the President, Board and Members of the Philipsburg Mutual Improvement Association.

As a people we are the sum of our history.

Tonight, we celebrate part of the sum of the history of our Sint Maarten people, that is 90 years of the Philipsburg Mutual Improvement Association, PMIA.

I am pleased to address you this evening for the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the PMIA. There is an African proverb which reads, and I quote:

“We desire to bequeath two things to our children;

the first is roots and the other is wings.” unquote

As an organization the PMIA continues to give content to words of this African proverb.

Established in 1932, the PMIA was founded on the idea of promoting the social and cultural interests of the people of Sint Maarten through self-reliance. This anchored on its motto of: Friendship, Love and Unity. In its ninety years the PMIA has sought to realize its mission by providing educational and other social programs and by offering its facilities for use for social, cultural, commercial and government tasks. This Hall has hosted dances, concerts, movies, weddings, and currently serves as one of the chambers for court sessions.  

Through its leadership I have a significant connection with the PMIA. 

  • I am the grandson of the PMIA Cofounder and first President, LB Scott;
  • I am the great Nephew of the PMIA’s second President, Mr. Alexis Arnell;
  • I am the son of the PMIA’s third President, Mrs. Leonie Holiday-Marsham; and
  • I am the brother of the PMIA’s fourth and current President, Ms. Glenderlin Holiday. 

It should therefor come as no surprise when I tell you that as a boy, I spent many Sunday afternoons in this PMIA hall attending PMIA meetings. That under the guidance of another PMIA stalwart Mrs. Mildred Scott. At the time I must admit, I was not always happy about having to attend those meetings. I would have rather spend my Sunday afternoons on the Baseball field. During those meetings we were taught the principles of the PMIA, self-reliance, friendship, love, and unity. Special emphasis was placed on important values and skills such as, being punctual, on being respectful, on speaking clearly, on paying attention when others are speaking, on how to organize and conduct orderly meetings, and on public speaking to name a few. Important principles, values, and skills for the building of cohesive communities and a strong country. These lessons in civics played an important role in preparing us to be active and responsible citizens. Looking back, I am thankful that my mother insisted that I attended those meetings along with my brothers. For in the words of the African proverb we were given wings. When I listen to and read the nature of the public discourse or should I say discord, it is evident that these lessons and these wings are still relevant today. In this age of social media and electronic networking, the interpersonal and civic education programs of the PMIA can play an important role in improving interpersonal interactions and fostering greater civility and cohesion in our society.

In preparing for this speech I came across the program for the PMIA 45th anniversary meeting held on August 7, 1977. It consisted of two parts:

  • A Religious Part and
  • A Social part.

There were prayers, scripture readings, hymns, recitals, songs, and addresses. At the time 45 years ago, I addressed the gathering in my capacity as Vice President of the Junior Section of the PMIA. Seeing the document, prepared with an old fashion typewriter, with many of the names of senior members of the PMIA, and especially the names of the other junior members brought back fond memories of yester year. 

In 2003 I was, therefore, happy to give back to the PMIA when I developed the idea for the Annual Lionel Bernard Scott Memorial Lecture series and proposed that the PMIA host the Lecture as one of its Programs. To launch and set the tone for the Lecture Series I therefor volunteered and delivered the first LB Scott Memorial lecture on the topic: Economic Self-Reliance and Sint Maarten’s Quest for Country Status. Sint Maarten’s Economic self-reliance was a relevant issue when the PMIA was established 90 years ago, it was important during our quest for country status and remains critical today. 

The lecture series I believe fits nicely in the founders’ vision of holding town-hall meetings to discuss, inform and educate the population about social, economic, and constitutional issues which are important for our development. I trust that the PMIA will continue to offer these valuable educational lectures to our people.

I say that because it is evident that education gives us wings and helps us grow as individuals and as a people. In addition to its educational role, PMIA fulfills a significant cultural heritage function.

Today as we celebrate the 90th anniversary of PMIA, I believe that we can draw some important lessons from the longevity and resilience of this historic and true Sint Maarten institution. We should ask ourselves how many of our original organizations and traditions that represents our Sint Maarten roots still stand today.

In a recent conversation with some of my staff at the Cabinet of the Governor we were reminiscing about the people and buildings in Philipsburg, Bush road and around the island and about our foods and customs. I was surprised at how much some of them remembered and at the same time concerned about how much no longer exists.

The PMIA with its building, the PMIA hall, is one of those original Sint Maarten organizations that has stood the test of time. This PMIA 90th anniversary reminds us that we can preserve our heritage in the face of external pressures and amidst the challenges of an everchanging environment. And for doing this I commend the past and current members and boards of the PMIA. A study of the membership of the PMIA will show that many persons have passed through the association. They or their children therefore have a story to tell about the association and their participation in its activities. The PMIA at 90 has deep roots and is as such a part of Sint Maarten’s cultural heritage. And cultural heritage is the root that anchors and causes us to grow as a people. Today’s 90th anniversary celebration is therefore a call for us to place more emphasis on preserving our Sint Maarten heritage. It is an encouragement for more of us to take up our responsibility to preserve, document protect and pass on our cultural heritage.

As we celebrate this 90th anniversary I, also on behalf of Marie Louise, hereby commend and congratulate the President of PMIA, Glenderlin Holiday, the other board members and the members of PMIA on achieving this significant milestone in the life of the association. You have built on the works of those that went before you to maintain and preserve this original historic Sint Maarten Institution. You have answered the call. You are continuing to bequeath our children with roots and wings. And I am sure that the founders of PMIA, past board members, and members who are no longer with us are smiling on this proceeding with pride.

Once again congratulations and may God bless the PMIA and its members.

Thank you

God Bless you

And May God bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.

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Private home repairs making steady progress and will continue into 2023

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Under the Sint Maarten Trust Fund’s Emergency Recovery Project (ERP-1), repairs to private homes are making steady progress, as evidenced by the turning over of yet another home to a Sint Maarten resident.

In attendance at the handover ceremony on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, were Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert Doran, Dutch representative in Sint Maarten Chris Johnson, and National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Director Claret Connor.

During this ceremonial gathering, NRPB Director Connor, with the assistance of Minister Jacobs and Minister Doran, handed over the keys to a newly repaired home to the beneficiary’s son, who accepted the keys on behalf of his mother.

The beneficiary’s home was one of the many damaged during 2017’s destructive hurricane season, which affected between 70 and 80% of Sint Maarten’s local housing sector. While many homeowners have repaired their homes through hard work and determination, ERP-1’s private home repair program focused on Sint Maarten’s most financially vulnerable, such as senior citizens. Some of the program’s eligibility criteria included the provision that homeowners could not have an income of more than NAf. 4,000 per month and that they had to have been using the home as their primary residence.

With repairs to roofs, windows, and doors – as well as some structural works for enhanced safety – the ERP-1 home repair program has provided a safer environment for this segment of affected homeowners, following the “Build Back Better” principle.

As of August 1, 2022, exactly 160 private homes have been repaired through ERP-1, with work on an additional 18 private homes scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2023 under a new contract.

Noting the program’s positive results, Prime Minister Jacobs is happy that so many families are now in more resilient homes ahead of the peak of this year’s hurricane season.

“It has taken quite a while, but we are comforted in knowing that not only is the home fixed, but precautions have been taken to weather-proof it for future potential hurricanes. We would like to help more, but with the focus on seniors we are able to help our society’s vulnerable. This mother and grandmother can finally spend the night in the comfort of her own home; if that’s not progress, I don’t know what is,” said Prime Minister Jacobs.

The enhanced safety features embedded in ERP-1's home repair program were developed in close collaboration with the Ministry of VROMI.

“The recently established building codes will help to make a more informed decision on how to rebuild after a disaster. I am delighted to be part of the handover of keys to another newly repaired home, and I urge all residents to build more resiliently,” said VROMI Minister Doran about the need for rebuilding in a more resilient manner in light of ever-stronger Atlantic hurricanes.

Highlighting the cooperation between the Government of Sint Maarten and the Government of the Netherlands, Dutch Representative Johnson said: “It’s always nice to see the results of inter-kingdom cooperation, and so far, the Sint Maarten Trust Fund has been a great example of that. The NRPB is doing fine work and deserves a lot of credit for their results and continued efforts.”

“The repairs of private homes damaged during the 2017 hurricanes could only have been possible through the dedicated efforts of many stakeholders, such as the NRPB, the Government of Sint Maarten, the World Bank, the Dutch Government, and non-governmental organizations. I’m pleased to see the positive results that have been achieved, and our enhanced resilience is due to the tireless efforts and work of everyone involved,” said NRPB Director Connor.

In addition to the 160 private homes, the ERP-1 home repair program has also directly repaired 109 units of the Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF), while work on another 64 units of the Belvedere Towers is currently underway. Moreover, ERP-1 has provided retroactive financing for 160 units that were repaired by SMHDF immediately after the 2017 hurricane season.

ERP-1 is one of the many projects of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, which is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

For more information about ERP-1, persons can visit the NRPB’s website www.nrpbsxm.org/erp1.

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Police & School Boards introduced to Handle with Care

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Representatives of the Police Department, School Boards, and School Managers were introduced to the Handle with Care (HWC). HWC is a rapid support method to assist children who witness domestic violence or have been exposed to traumatic events, and the police are called in.

The Court of Guardianship (CoG), in collaboration with UNICEF the Netherlands & Augeo Foundation are working towards implementing HWC on Sint Maarten.

During information sessions held at the University of Sint Maarten, stakeholders were informed about their (possible) roles within HWC and asked for feedback on the steps and challenges of implementation.

During these sessions, representatives of Community Police, Youth & Morals Department, school boards, school managers, school social workers and counsellors were present.

"The introduction to Handle with Care was well-received by the invited stakeholders. We were all in agreement that better coordination and support between departments is needed to work together in the best interest of children on the island," shares Kimberly Brown, Head of the CoG. The following steps include further sensitization meetings and workshops on HWC: "as we need everyone on board to ensure that this method is effective," explains Kimberly.

The HWC method targets children who witness or are victims of violence at home. Picture a child who has just witnessed violence at home, going to school, but their teacher does not know they require extra attention. Maybe the teacher even reprimands the student for unusual behaviour. This may be understandable if the teacher does not know that the child is having a difficult time. This does not help the child feel safe or supported and can make the situation worse.

If the police are called to an incident of domestic violence, and there are children present, they contact the Court of Guardianship. The Court of Guardianship will contact the school within 24 hours and say: "name of the child + code word: “handle with care”.

No further information is shared. The school is informed and can provide rapid social support to the child, and the CoG can work on preparing a safety plan for the family.

For more information on HWC: https://www.growingupsafe-sxm.com/issue-nr2/being-prepared-for-hurricanes/feature-handle-with-care

These activities are part of the Child Resilience and Protection Project (CRPP) executed by the Government of Sint Maarten in collaboration with UNICEF The Netherlands, financed by the Government of The Netherlands, through the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, as part of the Child Resilience and Protection Project (CRPP).

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Prime Minister Jacobs’ Back to School Message. Be safe, productive and blessed

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Sunday, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs released the following back to school message. “On this, the first day back to school for 2022/2023 for many of our children, I hope our young ones have enjoyed the time off and were able to relax and recharge to start the new school year. I pray the Lord extends us His mercy and keeps them under a shroud of protection.

“To the management, teachers, and school faculty, we thank you for your dedication and service throughout the years. You are valued and appreciated, as the base on which our children build their education, and more importantly their drive to become lifelong learners. You will usher them through their educational successes and trials, and we count on you to see it through.

“To the children starting school for the first time, we wish you comfort in your new environments. While you may not spend all your time with your parents, be comforted in the knowledge that you are in the hands of skilled and devoted staff who have already been planning and preparing to develop the young minds of Sint Maarten.

“To the returning students, we wish you focus and commitment. All signs point to a productive school year as you set your sights on being educated, a universal right that is much bigger than any one person. This is a new opportunity to be your best self; a new year to figure out your calling, your passion; something you will do without thinking, something(s) you will excel at. We pray for a safe and productive year for all students.

“To the parents, you are your child’s first teacher and your attitude towards learning will play a role in your child’s journey. Nurture, love, support, and give structure to your children. Help them to understand societal rules. Instill respect and impulse control, compassion, and equity in our children for a happy and productive life. It will take us, parents, teachers, students, administrators, and government, all working together to make this a productive year for all.

“We are indeed a joyous and caring community with the common goals of nurturing responsible, caring students with the goal of being promoted to higher levels of learning. On behalf of the government of St. Maarten I wish you all a blessed, fun-filled, and exciting school year filled with exceeding expectations.”

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