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Sint Maarten Youth Leaders Take Advantage of Erasmus+ Programs

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - The St. Maarten Youth Council Association, in collaboration with the Caribbean Education and Culture Foundation, continues to offer opportunities to youth leaders and youth workers through Erasmus + Programs.

Aarin White, Secretary General of the Sint Maarten Youth Parliament, and Kenneth Serrant – Director of the Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinders, are currently in Narva, Estonia to participate in the training course U Learn- supporting learning in youth work.

The training course is organized by VitaTiim of Estonia and aims to enhance youth workers’ ability to actively support young people’s learning, self-directedness and motivation, while empowering them to improve their personal situation. The course brings together participants from Croatia, Latvia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Denmark, Lithuania, Sint Maarten, and host Estonia. The course runs from March 11 – 15, 2019.

On Wednesday March 13, two young leaders left Sint Maarten for Malta to participate in the first leg of a three-part exchange. Awareness Migration Integration is organized by Genista Research Foundation of Malta. Emerging Leaders Loudahlia Brill and Erwin Romney will participate in this program which looks at youth participation, youth work, migrant issues and the integration of refugees. The course runs from March 14 – 20, 2019. 

The second leg of the exchange will be hosted in Sint Maarten by the Caribbean Education and Culture Foundation, from June 26 to July 2, 2019. The final site visit will take place in Slovenia in September. Participating countries are Malta, Slovenia, Turkey, Portugal and Sint Maarten. In addition to the skills and knowledge gained throughout the exchange program, an online platform will be created by the end of 2019 to facilitate continued collaboration.

The St. Maarten Youth Council Association is excited about these and other partnerships and learning opportunities for St. Maarten’s youth and youth workers. Persons 18 years and older, interested in participating in future courses and youth exchanges, can contact the St. Maarten Youth Council Association at 1 721 550 8971; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or visit the Face Book pages of  the St. Maarten Youth Council or the Caribbean Education and Culture Foundation.

The organizers are currently recruiting three suitable candidates to participate in a ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ training course from May 4 – 12, 2019 in Pamporova, Bulgaria.

AWhite and KSerrant Estonia intercultural cafe

L to R: A. White and K. Serrant. (Photo contributed)

 

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Alicia’s Inn and Baker’s Suites become Hospitality Assured

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Two local businesses that were part of a pilot Hospitality Assured (HA) program sponsored by the European Union’s Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) program for SMEs, have become HA certified.  

The two businesses Alicia's Inn and Baker's Suites will now benefit from improved ratings and other accolades from online Rating sites including recognition for improved customer loyalty amongst a host of other benefits.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication TEATT the honourable Stuart Johnson congratulated the two businesses on their prestigious achievement. He said, "Every hospitality business needs to offer quality service.  It is essential for business growth and the future development of our tourism product." Johnson said training enables businesses to reach their full potential in customer service.

"As a tourism-based economy, we have to ensure going forward that training is an essential ingredient of business development and evolvement. Doing this will allow business operators and their staff to keep ahead of the current competitive times in which we do business,” said Johnson.  

As a vacation destination, businesses on St. Maarten must ensure that visitors have an excellent guest service experience. The HA program promotes a culture of quality and service excellence which are driven by international standards and certification that creates and maintains competitive tourism enterprises. 

Interim Director of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau STB May-Ling Chun said, “Training helps staff to feel valued, and capable to handle a variety of situations.  It creates effective and a pleasant work environment.”  

Jeanina of Alicia’s Inn said, “Our journey and experience has been very fruitful. As an organisation, we have gained valuable knowledge on how to operate and identify excellence throughout the organisation. As a quality system, the Hospitality Assured program is challenging. However, the benefits we experienced in organisational and business growth is priceless.”

Anastacio Baker of Baker’s Suites said, "The journey on achieving this award was not a smooth one as the requirements, and the demand was very high. We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to be part of this program as the results could be seen daily in the manner in which our staff communicates with our guests and also amongst each other.” He said, “Baker's Suites boutique hotel is family owned and operated, and every customer that enters our doors is treated like family, this is what this program highlighted.” 

Baker said, "Receiving the news that we successfully completed and passed the program, was the perfect gift to kick off our 5th Anniversary."

Alicia Inn pic

Wendy Doran (STB), Jeanina Dupersoy (Alicia’s Inn) and Lisa Noel (STB)

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Four Faces of Women Workshop empowered many women

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Four Faces of Women workshop was held at the Belair Community Center on March 9thas part of the calendar of events and activities of Womanity Fest 2019, Mercedes van der Waals Wyatt said in a press statement on Tuesday.  The empowerment workshop was facilitated by Sister Devki from the Brahma Kumaris. Elektralyets, Positive Foundation Posh Productions presidents respectively were all present.

Opening remarks were done by Elektralyets Foundation President Mercedes van der Waals-Wyatt and Shelly Alphonso from the Positive Foundation.

“The Brahma Kumaris vision of equality for women is about restoring dignity and self-respect, and creating an atmosphere where women feel safe.

“The four Faces of women workshop handled the various phases that women go through during the passage of time, from Eternal face, the Traditional face, the Modern face and the face of the highest potential of Woman, the Shakti Face.

“The Eternal Facewhispers to us of our original self, the seed of who we are – authentic power, innocence, pure love, peace and joy.  The Traditional Faceconvinces us that safety and success come from defining ourselves through the eyes and beliefs of others.  The Modern Facefinds the courage to reject the imposition of others, seeking to return to the truth of who we are but often finds ourselves lost in the struggle.  The Power Face– the face of spiritual wisdom and power – is the key to return to our true self without the struggle and cost of the Modern Face.

“Offering a framework for understanding the four faces as actual “phases” on our personal journey, the workshop helped women see how we are conditioned by external factors from childhood to early adulthood, how we rebel against this and, in the end, how we can reclaim our lost identity.

“Women at the Belair Community Center had a chance to meet and greet, working in groups to discuss and feedback their findings with the whole group. They were various topics and elements which were then elaborated upon in the workshop as well.

“Created by women for women as an opportunity to experience courage that is alive, visible, active and steady, evoke the courage to see the best in every situation and every person and explore your own courage which stand in line with the International Women’s day theme 
# Balance for better.

“The group of women ranged from young teenage girls to mature adult women. It was very wonderful and something new for me to give the workshop to such a diverse group. After 35 years facilitating the workshop all over the world, it was nice to hear young girls give a different perspective and be engaged and actively participate in some hot topics, said Sister Devki of Brahma Kumaris.

“Many women felt empowered after the Four fases of women workshop and women were given a love bracelet and rounded the workshop off with warm hugs and uplifting words of encouragement. 

“Representatives of various women’s groups, teachers, mothers and daughters were amongst those present and each took an active role in the workshop.

“Brahma Kumaris has a branch here in St. Maarten where they offer stress free living, anger management, meditation and positive thinking classes all for free.

“Mercedes van der Waals-Wyatt thanked Sister Devki for facilitating the workshop and all the women that participated. The women were treated to snacks from Bress’s kitchen and drinks.”

For more information you can contact Brahma Kumaris Sister Devki: 524 2554 or visit them on Front Street in the Arcade next to the Music Man Building.

women sister devki four faces 2019

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Four in five of the Dutch are worried about the landscape: survey

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Over four in five Dutch people are worried about the deterioration of the Dutch landscape, a survey by nature organisation Natuurmonumenten has shown. 

Some 81% of the 45,000 respondents are very worried about biodiversity, with 61% citing the disappearance of wild flowers, insects and bees as a problem. Three in 10 also mentioned the disappearance of trees and hedges from the landscape and the increase in the number of giant barns for the intensive farming sector.

The average score for the natural landscape is still 7.5 out of 10 although with marked regional differences, Natuurmonumenten found. The province of Drenthe scored a 8.1 while Zuid Holland only managed a 6.7, with the western Randstad and the natural landscape around other big cities meriting no more than 6 out of 10 or less. 

‘People are becoming aware that our landscape is becoming more uniform,’ Natuurmonumenten director Marc van Tweel told broadcaster Nos. ‘They hear less birdsong and see fewer flowers. 

Characteristic landscapes are disappearing, and business parks are encroaching on the natural space.’ Over nine in 10 of the respondents think the Dutch government is primarily responsible for the protection of the landscape and should take nature into account when planning projects such as wind turbine parks and new roads.
(DutchNews)

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Rotterdam, Eindhoven airports face expansion plan freeze

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A majority of MPs say there should be a temporary halt to Rotterdam and Eindhoven  airports’ expansion plans because of the noise nuisance for locals, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday. 

Two coalition parties – D66 and ChristenUnie – have called for a ‘time-out’ on the growth plans because of the lack of support among people living near to the airports and under flight paths. 

In addition, regional airports based on holiday traffic have no important economic role, D66 parliamentarian Jan Paternotte said. Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen is due to publish her plans for the country’s regional airports in the autumn, at the earliest. 

The cabinet is still working on the expansion of Lelystad airport, which is supposed to take charter traffic to European destinations over from Schiphol. The airport is due to open to commercial airlines next year. 

Green groups 

Meanwhile, environmental campaign group Natuur & Milieu has pulled out of talks on the future of the aviation industry because it disagrees with the text of the final report. 

Spokeswoman Marjolein Demmers told website Nu.nl that the aviation sector is dominating the discussions and was able to keep ‘ambitious targets’ for cutting carbon dioxide emissions out of the report. 

The industry was also only willing to discuss measures to make air travel more sustainable if the growth in aviation was kept off the negotiating table, she said.(DutchNews)

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Top hat? Bike helmets would save 85 cycling fatalities a year, says report

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A new report from the Dutch road safety research foundation predicts that if cyclists in the Netherlands always wore a helmet, there would be 85 fewer road deaths a year. 

The research, which assumes that currently between none and 10% of cyclists actually wear a helmet, is based on a global meta-analysis from 2018. This found that protective headgear reduces serious head injury by 60% and slashes serious and fatal injuries by around a third. 

Put into a Dutch context, said the road safety organisation SWOV, this would mean up to 2,600 fewer serious traffic injuries per year. Its report suggests the most dramatic effect would be on people over 70, with up to 50 fewer deaths and 900 fewer injuries. 

‘This estimated effect is much higher than the previous estimates that SWOV has reported,’ said researchers in their summary published on Thursday. 

‘This is due to a higher expected effectiveness [of helmets] on the basis of new meta-analyses…many more cyclists on the Dutch roads and a greater number of head injury victims in new accident figures.’ 

Hard sell 

But a spokesman for the SWOV acknowledged that the protective head wear might be a hard sell in the Netherlands. ‘Helmets aren’t often worn in the Netherlands and we are aware of the arguments [that cycling could decrease if they were obligatory],’ he said. 

‘We did a trial in Zeeland with young school children and found that if you stimulate it with other educational activities, helmet wearing does increase – but from a certain age, 10 or 11, it fell again, when the promotional activities stopped.’ 

According to the Fietsersbond cyclists’ organisation, Dutch people each cycle an average of 880km per year, and it is estimated that there are 22.8 million bikes in the country – more than the number of people. 

But cyclists also make up about a third of road deaths, with around 190 fatal accidents a year and an estimated 13,300 serious injuries. 

Risky behaviour 

Some previous research has suggested that people wearing head protection act in a riskier way on the roads, but the SWOV report says that a 2019 systematic review showed ‘little evidence’ that helmets are associated with risky behaviour. 

It also says that criticism that obligatory helmet use would significantly reduce cycling levels is not supported by another 2018 review of 23 studies and added that ‘if the number of cyclists drops at first, this will not necessarily be a long-term effect.’ 

Children in the 2016 study in Zeeland did not cycle less when they had to wear helmets. The SWOV report, commissioned by the Dutch transport ministry, was based on global but not Dutch studies, and its figures assume that people wearing head gear would not cycle in a riskier way. 

It also avoids any recommendation of ‘concrete rules such as, for example, obligatory helmets.’  (DutchNews)

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Education minister threatens to remove funding from Amsterdam Islamic high school, accused of terror links

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Education minister Arie Slob has threatened to withdraw state funding from an Amsterdam Islamic secondary school accused of having terrorist links, if it refuses to let inspections take place. 

The Dutch security service AIVD has warned Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema that the city’s only Islamic secondary school is being influenced by ‘undemocratic groups’ and that some of the schools’ leadership have links to terrorists. 

On Friday, Slob told the NOS Journaal news programme that inspectors would be returning to investigate the allegations. ‘Inspectors will come back, announced and unannounced, and…I have the option of cutting off funding for the school,’ he said. 

‘It is unacceptable that inspectors cannot do their work to see what is happening with teachers and within the school.’ The Cornelius Haga Lyceum opened its doors in 2017, despite efforts by both the city council and the education ministry to prevent it from opening. 

The then education minister Sander Dekker had refused to allocate funding for the school, because a former board member was alleged to have shown support for IS on Facebook. 

Now the AIVD claims that pupils at the school are being influenced by staff with terrorist connections. The AIVD says that between 2009 and 2012 these leaders were linked to a militant jihadi organisation called Caucasus Emirate which is based in the south west of Russia and is responsible for several terrorist attacks in Russia itself. 

Halsema has now frozen all funding to the school until the entire board resign. In a briefing to the city council, the mayor said that the children’s safe and democratic development cannot be guaranteed because the school is operating in parallel to society. 

The school issued a statement on Thursday evening distancing itself from ‘all forms of terrorism and ideals which can lead to it’. According to the NRC, education ministry inspectors were due to publish a ‘relatively positive’ report on the school last month but publication was delayed following the emergence of ‘disturbing signals’.(DutchNews)

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Pre-2004 sperm donors can retain anonymity after all

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Known sperm donors from before 2004, when a law banned anonymous donation, have been given the option to remove their data despite an agreement with parents made at the time, broadcaster NOS reports. 

In an internal letter from health minister Hugo de Jonge obtained by current affairs programme Nieuwsuur, donors who had been registered as ‘known’ before the law came into force can now switch back to ‘anonymous’ making them untraceable to their children. 

According to the minister the option is part of a transitional period and part of donors’ rights before 2004. The current law obliges donors to provide their personal information. 

Nieuwsuur also found that fertility clinics had in very few cases asked their donors whether they wanted to remain anonymous or were prepared to be contacted by their children, a requisite of the law. 

They also failed to enter all data on donors and pregnancies in a central database. It now transpires that in December the health ministry and the foundation in charge of the database made a new agreement to give donors from before 2004 the option to change their mind on anonymity. 

This flies in the face of an agreement made with parents at the time that their children could request the information after they had reached the age of 16. 

Children 

‘This is not in the spirit of the 2004 law (..) which was meant to give information to donor children, not provide an escape route for donors to remain anonymous,’ Ester de Lau of Stichting Donorkind told the broadcaster. 

‘Children have the right to know who their parents are, but the law stipulates that donors from before 2004 have to give permission for their data to be shared and that creates a legal conflict,’ professor of juvenile justice Mariëlle Bruning told NOS. 

‘It is very hard on a 16-year-old to find the donor has changed his mind, but you can’t force him. We can only impress on him how important it is to the child.’ Christen Unie MP Carla Dik-Faber said the move was ‘not at all logical one’ and wants De Jonge to talk to the donor child organisations. (DutchNews)

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Entrepreneurs can file their General Expenditure Tax (ABB) and Payroll taxes (LH) online

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - For entrepreneurs it is possible to file their ABB/LH online as of February 2019. The Belastingdienst/CN has now digitised this tax return process and this has some major advantages for entrepreneurs. 

Simpler process 

The process is simpler, quicker and less prone to errors both for the entrepreneurs and for the Belastingdienst. For the entrepreneurs a digital archive will be managed as well.

Besides it is no longer necessary to come to the tax office for a stamp, or to file the

tax return by mail. Digital filing will do. 

Authorisation

Entrepreneurs can authorise their tax advisor and then they can both monitor the progress of (already filed) tax returns. They can also indicate if they wish to file their ABB/LH and make payments monthly, quarterly or annually going forward. The Belastingdienst should receive tax declarations and payments within 15 days after the expiration date of the time period. 

Information

Should there be any questions, entrepreneurs can contact the helpdesk of the Belastingdienst/CN by telephone + 599 7158545. This is possible from Monday to Thursday from 8 AM till 12 noon and from 2 PM till 4 PM and on Friday from 8 AM till 12 noon. It is also possible to send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Amsterdam has highest crime rate in NL but Limburg dominates top 10

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam has again topped the annual league table of municipalities with the worst crime rates, but Limburg has the highest concentration with four of the top 10. 

The number of incidents in the capital fell overall in 2018, but there was an increase in vehicle thefts, street robbery and assault, according to the 18th edition of the Misdaadmeter survey. 

The Limburg communities of Sittard-Geleen and Roermond entered the top 10, joining Maastricht and Heerlen, with the latter rising from ninth place to fifth to overtake its larger neighbour. 

The ranking table is compiled on the basis of police figures for the number of complaints received for 10 crimes which have a high impact on people’s perception of safety, such as domestic burglaries, street violence and thefts from vehicles. 

Police spokesman Jean Fransman said attacks on takeaway delivery drivers were partly responsible for the soaring number of assaults. Last year 43 couriers were targeted, more than double the previous year’s total of 17. 

Border areas such as Limburg are especially prone to vehicle theft because car thieves can easily escape to Germany, Belgium or France. Amsterdam’s neighbour Diemen shot up from 26th place to eighth after the area was targeted by a gang of Chilean criminals. 

The numbers are reported to have dropped again since police rounded up the group. A police spokesman told AD: ‘We are seeing a fall in crime in many categories and we are content with that. However, there is still a lot of work to do.’(DutchNews)

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