Soualiga News Today

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SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The event will take place on Monday, May 20th from 6pm to 8:30pm at the Belair Community Center, in Philipsburg. The most renowned Colombian medical institutions will be participating in a meet and greet and medical panel presentation to introduce the country’s health sector offer.

This event is free and open to the public.

ProColombia proudly gathered 11 of the most distinguished Colombian medical institutions to come to Sint Maarten. There will be opportunity for attendees to meet the Colombian medical professionals and listen to different medical panels that will discuss interesting topics on plastic surgery, cardiology, oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, dentistry, fertility and more. 

Colombia has become a leader in the delivery of health services due to its variety of treatment techniques, modern infrastructure, advanced technology, the accreditation of its institutions, highly qualified professionals and medical offer. 

“Colombia is gradually becoming a world-wide example of international patient care due to its value proposition based on high quality standards and outstanding human talent” said Flavia Santoro, President of ProColombia.

The medical institutions come from 4 of Colombia’s capital cities, allowing the attendees to take full advantage of the characteristics every region has to offer and select the ones that accommodate better to their needs:

MEDELIN: Clínica Las Américas, The Human Fertility Institute in Colombia (InSer), Clínica Bolivariana, Clínica Clofan, Salud Sin Fronteras. BUCARAMANGA: Hospital Internacional de Colombia HIC-FCV. BOGOTA: Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colsanitas, Coomeva. CALI: Centro Médico Imbanaco, Clinica de Occidente.

These Hospitals have offices and qualified staff in several languages, which makes the process more pleasant for the patient and their companions.

According to “Migración Colombia” reports, the specialized immigration authority in Colombia, about 60% of all international patients treated in Colombian health institutes come from Central America and the Caribbean. One of the reasons for Colombian medical services and health assistance to be greatly influential in this region is due to the geographical location where patients benefit from being able to travel directly to Bogota in less than a two-hour flight. Other reasons include clinical expertise, medical training, specialization, empathy, quality of the services, personalized attention and lastly, the public-private partnerships between Sint Maarten and Colombia which have become a pillar of the development of the Colombian health sector.

The fact that four Colombian institutions are located among the top 10 in Latin America and that several Colombian Hospitals have national and international Medical Accreditations makes the country a sought-after medical destination for patients in the Caribbean, US, South and Central America.

PROCOLOMBIA is the Colombian government agency in charge of promoting exports, international tourism, foreign direct investment and country brand. Through its national and international network of offices, it offers support and integral consultancy to clients through services aiming to generate, develop and close business opportunities.


Minister Johnson says Sint Maarten to host Wet/Hurricane Season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Sint Maarten will be hosting the Wet/Hurricane Season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) next week from May 21-24. 

This is a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH) and the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS).  MDS falls under the Ministry of Tourism & Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT).

The Forum will address climate change, increasing climate variability as exemplified by extreme weather and climate events, such as droughts, floods, storms/hurricanes that continue to pose a significant risk for the Caribbean region.

Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson said on Thursday that the Regional Climate Outlook Forum is promoted by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) through the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) in different parts of the world.

“The forums are part of the development of an effective early warning system that provides real-time seasonal climate forecasts and interpretation for more than 25 Caribbean states and territories.  This service would be tailored made for the region as part of an overall strategy for disaster preparedness, risk reduction and adaptation.

“Experiences, lessons learned, and best practices post-Irma will be discussed by attendees. The main feature event will be the climate forecasts for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. 

“CariCOF is a timely event since it is being held one-week ahead of the official start of the hurricane season.  We look forward to welcoming the Forum delegates and to having meaningful and productive discussions,” Minister Hon. Stuart Johnson said on Thursday.

The Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have climate change and increasing climate variability as regional and national priorities.

CariCOF was re-established in June 2010, after the region suffered one of the most intense droughts in Caribbean history.

There was a follow-up CariCOF in February/March 2012 that developed a draft seasonal (three-month) rainfall outlook.  Since 2012, the CIMH has been coordinating climate forecasting activities throughout the region.

The focus of CariCOF 2019 is the wet/hurricane season which usually has implications for disaster risk management, with perennial threats from tropical depressions, storms, hurricanes, floods and landslides.

The training of meteorologists and climatologists from the across the Caribbean Basin about the art of climate forecasting will take place between May 21-22 followed by the stakeholder’s outlook forum from May 23-24.

The Forum will also attract national disaster management practitioners, and participation from partner regional organizations and agencies representing climate sensitive sectors such as health, energy, tourism and water.

Other areas to be discussed is building capacity in the disaster management fraternity and regional organizations in understanding, interpreting and applying climate-related forecasts, including sub-seasonal and one month will be key for decision making during the upcoming hurricane season.

The development of a regional Roadmap and Plan of Action (RPA), orchestrated by the Regional Sectoral Early Warning Information Systems across Climate Timescales (EWISACTs) Coordination Partners, will be discussed with respect to its status as the region prepares for its implementation between 2020-2030.

Other points to be discussed are: Forecast based early action to be led by the Overseas Development Institute (UK) in collaboration with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre; National level sector specific climate information; and a proposed network for monitoring climate-related impacts.

The Forum is taking place at the Simpson Bay Resort & Marina. 


SXM DOET Project Management Team attends successful Kingdom DOET evaluation meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Each year, the Oranje Fonds, the initiator and funder of all the Kingdom DOETs, hosts an evaluation meeting. This is where the the organizers of the community service initiatives, such as NLdoet, Aruba DOET, BON DOET, CURA DOET, Statia DOET and SXM DOET come together to reflect and brainstorm on ways to ensure continuing success for yet another year.

This year, the Kingdom was complete as Saba DOET joined in for their first official DOET. The regional meeting was held on May 6th and 7th on Curacao and deemed a success.

“DOET” is the largest volunteer initiative in the Dutch Kingdom where foundations, associations, schools and other NGOs host various projects that need the assistance of volunteers. The event is hosted annually on all Dutch Caribbean islands and in the Netherlands, in early March.

“In total it attracts about 400.000 volunteers to help accomplish approximately 10.000 projects, spread out all over the Kingdom. The King and Queen, as the Royal Patrons of the fund, as well as Princess Beatrix, always join in on the initiative as well. Locally, you'll see a wide scala of persons participating, thereby being a great community-building event.

During the two-day meeting, there is lots of discussion and dialogue about overcoming common hiccups and how to incorporate new ideas that celebrate volunteerism and the importance of giving back to community-driven organizations.

This year’s meeting also included site visits to some of the projects that were executed during Cura DOET 2019, showing the Kingdom partners the amazing work that their local volunteers were able to achieve, and give ideas and tips to the other Kingdom partners for next year’s event.

Next year’s SXM DOET will take place on March 13th and 14th, 2019, for its 6th consecutive year.

For further information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or stay up to date with SXM DOET on Facebook.


The Ambulant Care team of Nurses at MHF

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Mental Health foundation (MHF), in celebration of Nurses Week highlighted the work done by the Nurses of the Foundation. The four ambulant nurses; Marcel de Wit, Dione Trustful, Tracy John, Jessica Cannegieter, are out in the districts of St. Maarten on a daily basis and they rotate being on call 24 hours.

Their daily routine is to follow-up on patients who are not able to come to the clinic on their own, or they follow-up on patients that need assistance with their medication.

Research has established that treatment in the own trusted environment is more efficient. However, the post Irma situation has created extremely confrontational living situation of their patients, which makes their work even harder.

On call 24/7

Being on call means the nurses are called on to tend to a patient in a crisis situation, the person is having difficulty coping with his/her situation. Crisis calls have increased considerably since hurricane Irma regardless of having to come to work the following day the nurses are out there, when they are needed.

MHF has a cooperation agreement with the St. Maarten Police force who assists during a crisis situation. The Nurses have done workshops with the Police on handling crisis situation taking into consideration the patient’s situation.

The case loads

The Nurses have a caseload of approximately 60 patients that they see at least once a week sometimes twice a week.

The hard part of the work is when regardless of all efforts the patient relapses. (Falls back)

The teams drive however is; “the special appreciation that you get from the patients and their families.” What makes you want to go that extra mile for the patients is seeing that they are doing better day by day.

For International Nurses week the foundation is highlighting its gratitude for the hard work of these nurses.

Do you know someone or would you like to contact MHF please do so don’t wait till it is too late: Call 5421677 or check out our website or Facebook page.


Mental Health Foundation Launches Anti Stigma Campaign

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Yesterday, May 14th, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) launched a new anti-stigma campaign aimed to inform the people on mental health and the related services of MHF, the foundation said in a statement on Tuesday.

The main medium of this campaign are four videos to be shared via social media and at upcoming events. The first video, focused on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, was premiered yesterday. In the coming weeks, the three additional videos will be strategically shared and inform the public about the services at MHF such as ambulant care, admissions and the Faraja (daycare) Center.

“With help of this campaign we hope that people will look at mental health and MHF differently. We want to make people feel more comfortable to discuss mental health within our community. There is no shames in admitting you are dealing with a mental health issue – and MHF can help,” Bart van der Meijden, Information and Prevention Coordinator at MHF explains.

The sponsors of this campaign included Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben, Philipsburg Pharmacy, The Dutch Representation Office, Claude CHACHO Peterson - SMCP Member of Parliament, FWG, Rotary Club of Sint Maarten-Mid Isle & The Windward Island Bank.

Sponsors and partners of the campaign were invited yesterday to preview the videos during a short presentation. “We hope that everyone will share these videos and help us share the message about fighting mental health stigma,” Van Der Meijden urged the invited guests.

“MHF’s staff and clients still deal with stigma on a regular base, making prevention and treatment more difficult. This is partly due to a lack of knowledge, but fear of social judgment plays a big role as well. MHF believes prevention is the best course of action when dealing with any health issues. We hope that this campaign impacts the public’s view on mental health in a positive way,” MHF Director Eileen Healy shared at the end of the presentation.

In addition to the videos, MHF will present their campaign through written press, radio and other channels. MHF invited the public to tune into Laser 101 every Wednesday, for the next 4 weeks, where MHF will be sharing their viewpoints during the Suppa Suppa Morning Show starting at 7:45am.

Persons can keep up to date with The Mental Health Foundation, their activities and view the newly produced videos on their Facebook page: @Mental Health Foundation Sint Maarten. 


Rotary Sunset President Honored With Paul Harris Fellow

SINT MAARTEN/JAMAICA — President Jaida Nisbett of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary District 7020 Governor, Patrick Adizua, at the 45th District Conference & Assembly hosted in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Paul Harris Fellow recognition award acknowledges individuals who have made significant contributions to the Rotary Foundation. The Paul Harris Fellow is named after Paul Harris, who founded Rotary along with three other business associates in Chicago in 1905. It is awarded to individuals who meet high professional and personal standards and who exemplifies the humanitarian and educational objectives of the Rotary Foundation.

President Jaida was awarded for her instrumental role in the formation of one of the newest and youngest Rotary Clubs in Rotary District 7020. President Jaida Nisbett is one of the founding members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset and she was appointed Charter President of the club which was officially recognized by Rotary International on July 30, 2018. The Club now boasts a membership of 45 vibrant members committed to serving their community through fellowship and who exemplify the Rotary ideal of “Service Above Self”.

Rotary Sunset also made headlines at the 45th District Conference & Assembly as the club received several top awards and distinctions. The club received the District Governor’s Platinum Award for its inspiring year of service throughout the community. The club also received the Public Image Citation Award for its role in enhancing Rotary’s legacy as one of the most respected and widely recognized organizations in the world. The club was also awarded with the Club of the Month Award (COTM) for winning in the Large Club category in January 2019 under the Rotary theme Vocational Service Excellence as well as the Gold Award for achieving 100 points in March under the theme Water & Sanitation.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of this wonderful organization which has given me the opportunity to impact so many lives in my community and around the world. Receiving these awards is a testament to the hard work and determination of our club and today we are happy to see our dream become a reality. I would like to congratulate all members of Rotary Sunset for their tireless efforts in the planning and execution of our projects and events and I look forward to another successful year. I would like to continue to encourage our members to continue to be the Inspiration and continue to share your love for Rotary” – President Jaida.


Agreement with Dominican Republic can lead to more Economic Opportunities

SINT MAARTEN/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications Stuart Johnson delivered the following speech at the signing of the Air Transport Agreement between the King of the Netherlands, Sint Maarten and the Dominican Republic.

The speech reads as follows: “On behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten, I am honoured to be here today for the signing of this Air Transport Agreement between the Kingdom of The Netherlands, as it pertains to Sint Maarten and the Dominican Republic for Air Transportation.

“This agreement is beneficial for both Countries, allowing more direct service by making it possible for our carriers to enter into Codeshare Interline or Lease agreements.

“Before the negotiation of this agreement in 2013, there were not any airlines from Sint Maarten and/or the Dominican Republic offering scheduled service between both Countries. Because of the negotiations and subsequent signing of the Agreed Minutes, the path forward was paved beginning with an agreement to be provisionally applied.

“'Winair, the national carrier of Sint Maarten commenced scheduled service to the Dominican Republic with aircraft that are Wet leased from an airline of a third country. This was a historic event because for the first time ever Winair was able to offer scheduled services to the Dominican Republic.

“The agreement made it possible for Winair to enter into Wet Lease agreements with airlines from the Dominican Republic and at the time Winair was Wet Leasing aircraft from PAWA on flights between the Dominican Republic, Curacao and Sint Maarten and Curacao. Unfortunately, PAWA is no longer operating.

“However, Air Century with four weekly flights and Sky High with its three weekly flights are providing service out of Isabella Las Americas International Airport.

“INTER CARIBBEAN will resume service in June.

“The increase in air service is testimony to the close relationship between both Countries, and most importantly it is a testament to the airlines' commitment the many nationals of the Dominican Republic residing in Sint Maarten. It helps to maintain family relationships and makes it possible for leisure visitors to and from both countries.

“With the signing of this agreement, I hope that air service between our Countries continues to grow and further stimulate economic opportunities for Sint Maarten and the Dominican Republic. Thank you, and may God bless our countries and our people!”


Air Century tells Johnson SXM is its top destination

SINT MAARTEN/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Air Century Airline says since it started flying to St. Maarten from the Dominican Republic in 2018, it has enjoyed a load factor of 70 per cent making St. Maarten its "top destination."

Air Century made the statement this weekend when its top executives met with Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT), the Honourable Stuart Johnson who is in the Dominican Republic on a working visit.

The airline is looking towards the near future when it intends to offer more flights to the island and connect St. Maarten with the other destinations it services. At present, Air Century provides flights to Puerto Rico, Curacao, Haiti, Cuba, Aruba and St. Maarten and is based in the Dominican Republic.

Johnson said on Sunday, "Air Century serves a very essential need for our island as a large number of our residents are from the Dominican Republic. The DR is a country which has a long history and shared a relationship with the people of St. Maarten." He said the need for additional airlifts to the St. Maarten has to continually be looked at from the perspective of what service is most needed.

"That is the only way we will sustainably rebuild the airlifts to our island. The right connections create major marketing opportunities, along with the increased visitor arrivals and each route has to be beneficial for the airline itself as well so that they can provide service that we can rely on year round," said Johnson.

Johnson’s main goal when he met with Air Century Commercial Director Fabio Melo was to discuss increasing flight frequency and marketing opportunities for St. Maarten.

“I also wanted to solidify the Government of St. Maarten’s commitment to providing support. Naturally, supporting the airline is easier to agree upon since Air Century is very pleased with its load factor to St. Maarten,” Johnson added. 

Minister Johnson along with his senior policy advisor in the TEATT Cabinet Ms Regina Labega and Head of Civil Aviation Louis Halley received a tour of Air Century’s operations base at the Dr Joaquin Balaguer International Airport La Isabela.

Air Century flies four times weekly to St. Maarten using both the CRJ200 Jet with 45 seats available and the Saab 340B offering 27 seats. The airline has confirmed that it will increase from four to five flights weekly from St. Maarten starting this summer. Air Century began to fly to St. Maarten in 2018 and instantly filled a void left when Dominican Republic Airline PAWA halted its service.

According to Air Century Commercial Director Fabio Melo, "our vision is to connect the Caribbean uniquely, offering the safest air transportation at very competitive prices."

Air Century has been servicing St. Maarten since November 12, 2018. It is an international air travel company founded in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic on March 1992 by a pilot Captain Omar Chahin Lama. The airline provides regular flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Port-au-Prince Haiti, Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and offers charter flights to the entire Caribbean.

While in the Dom Rep Johnson and his delegation along with Dutch Ambassador Mrs Annemieke Verrijp also attended the Agroalimentaria Fair.  


SMART Crosses 100 Company Landmark

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Registrations for the Saint Martin / Sint Maarten Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART) have now exceeded 100 companies, passing by the event’s last two editions in 2015 and 2017.

This was announced today by the four organizing partners, L’Association des Hoteliers de Saint-Martin, the Saint-Martin Tourism Office, the Sint-Maarten Tourist Bureau and the Sint-Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association. 

New subscriptions for SMART still come in every day. As the limits of available space in the Sonesta Maho Convention center have been reached, organizers recommend businesses still interested to register to buy a walkaround ticket - still allowing access to all festivities, workshops and activities.

The organizers are elated about the great attendance, being one of the most mixed editions in the 17-year history of SMART. The event will now host visitors from Anguilla, Antigua, the Bahamas, Belgium, Bonaire, Canada, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France, Guadeloupe, Italy, Montserrat, the Netherlands, Panama, Puerto-Rico, Saba, St. Barths, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

SMART will be held on 21st – 23rd of May. SMART is the largest, energetic and most well-known trade show of the Northeastern Caribbean. It is hosted annually by the two side of the island Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. The SMART event consists of three full days of masterclasses, workshops, festivities, mystery dinners, pre- scheduled appointment sessions and activities. SMART is where wholesalers and tour operators can meet face-to-face and conduct business with suppliers in the Northeastern Caribbean Tourism Industry.

Event information will be continuously updated at For reservations or questions, please call +1-721-542-0108.


“Tis we ting, all a we” research presented to the COM by Carla Vlaun

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Ms. Carla Vlaun author of “Tis we ting, all a we” presented signed copies to the Council of Ministers (COM) of her self-published research paper, which captures the historical development of Carnival on Sint. Maarten.

A key finding of her research highlights the fact that Sint Maarten’s Carnival has managed to do something many national events in the Netherlands have failed to do. Without intention, Sint Maarten’s carnival embraces a multi- cultural setting by uniting people. It is a larger reflection of our economic and social reality of people with many different nationalities coming together and working together to keep the island afloat.

Ms. Vlaun attained her Masters in International Affairs at the Graduate Institute of Internal and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She is now resides in the Netherlands and works for World Press Photo in Amsterdam.

During Ms Vlaun’s presentation to the Council of Ministers she explained, “I wanted to explore the role of the St. Maarten government in constructing what is now the island’s largest cultural event. The structure of carnival was implemented with a top-down approach but only managed this way for less than a decade before being handed over to civil society groups. And since Carnival is St. Maarten’s largest cultural event, I wanted to use it as a lens to understand conceptions of national identity. In order to do this, I had to first establish a point of entry as carnival has many moving parts that each would reflect different understandings, from calypsonians to troupe leaders to booth holders.”

“I wanted to focus on the historical development of carnival as a whole and decided that the best focal point would then be the carnival committees charged with constructing carnival since its inception in 1970. In my research, I sought to explore the following questions: What factors contributed to the establishment of carnival under the Oranje Committee?

How have subsequent Carnival committees further developed carnival and shaped its identity, whether as a site of Kingdom celebration, a manifestation of national identity, and/or an expression of Caribbean identity? How does the history of carnival in St. Maarten reflect or challenge broader debates surrounding national culture, nationalism, and transnationalism in the Caribbean?”

With this recent accomplishment of making her research in an accessible form Ms. Vlaun, has hopes to inspire other students abroad to share their research thesis projects. “By printing my research in an accessible form, I hope to push forward the discussion and inspire others to share their work. It is a major pitfall of academia in general, that academics do not interact with the communities they write about once their research is completed. I hope I can call on people creating work about St. Maarten to break this cycle and find a way to engage communities and government entities here with their research. I strongly believe this is something that should be structurally encouraged,” said Ms. Vlaun.

The emphasis should be placed specifically on research projects that surround documenting St. Maarten development, in order for local students to have material that they can use as sources of information for their own research projects.

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