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Soualiga Newsday Top Stories (2620)

Minister of VROMI Giterson visits latest landfill fire. VROMI and Fire Department work diligently to contain fire

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In the early morning hours of Friday, August 31st a section on the eastern side of the Irma landfill caught fire. Immediately personnel from VROMI’s department of Public Works were notified and along with members of the Fire Department responded to the blaze.

All worked hard to control the blaze and just before dawn the “all clear” was given as it was the belief that the fire had been appropriately extinguished.

This unfortunately was not the case, and in the early morning hours of Saturday, September 1st the blaze reignited. Once again, VROMI staff responded and with the assistance of the Fire Department were able to control the blaze.

There however is still a large amount of smoke emanating from the site that is expected to grow smaller in the coming days as the fire fully burns out.

Minister of VROMI Miklos Giterson, after visiting himself to fully ascertain the situation, remains in continuous contact with those onsite. He assures the general public that all is being done to end this current fire and that Ministry continues to work persistently in preventing and controlling future fires of these magnitudes.


WEATHER WATCH: Possibly Two additional Storms to form after Florence

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – All eyes will be on the eastern Atlantic Ocean in the week of September 3rd. Tropical Storm (TS) Florence according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Saturday afternoon, will remain out at sea over the open Atlantic Ocean and does not pose a threat to the Caribbean.

TS Florence was forecast to become a hurricane, however, based on the latest information, the highest wind speeds that the storm is expected to reach during its life cycle is 65 miles per hour.

TS Florence continues to move away from the Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of Africa in a northerly direction that keeps it away from the Lesser Antilles/North Eastern Caribbean islands.

A subtropical ridge is influencing the storms current track and NHC is closely monitoring the aforementioned.

The Colorado State University (CSU) Department of Atmospheric Science in its latest report on Thursday said that the hurricane season reaches its climatological peak around Monday, September 10. “The primary threat formation area for major hurricane in early September is in the tropical Atlantic east of the Leeward and Windward Islands.

The CSU does acknowledge that global models indicate the potential for a tropical cyclone forming in the northern Gulf of Mexico in six to eight days, and that there is also potential for another system forming off of the Cabo Verde Islands in seven to 10 days.

The CSU adds that based on all indicators, they maintain their seasonal forecast call for a below-average hurricane season, but that the next two weeks will be more active than the full seasonal average due to more conducive sub-seasonal conditions.



Tzu Chi volunteers undergo intense training from head office

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers are now better equipped to carry out their roles in assisting persons in community according to the foundation’s principles, thanks to a two-month basic education training program that they successfully completed recently. 

Tzu Chi Founder Master Cheng Yen sent a special team of three Commissioners to St. Maarten in May to assist local volunteers with their post-Irma relief efforts as well as to conduct the training. The facilitators were David Hsu, Mei-Hsiang Chuang and Chun-Niang Yu. 

The 18 volunteers, who completed the Tzu Chi basic training program, graduated during a celebration held at Pink Pearl Restaurant recently. During the graduation Hsu presented each volunteer with their certification and a token of appreciation.

Receiving certificates were Saskia Amatdawoed, Egidio Lusia, Rosealie Aldueza Realon, Mary Jane Sanchez, Ingemar Arndell, Ingrid Arndell, Antonette Clarke, Eveline Paul Garard, Eldica Richardson, Angela Heyliger, Fuhong Yu, Marie Simon, Mo Sing Chu, Xiao Qiong Liang, Roger Yee Fong, Guifen Lu, Xiaya Mo and Regina Janga. 

During the ceremony, volunteers delivered sign language performances. One of the performances entitled “Three Nos” teaches that there is no one in the world whom cannot be loved, trusted and forgiven.

Another sign language performance entitled “One Family,” teaches that the world is one big family and that those who are blessed should reach out to the less fortunate and assist them. 

The training program was held once weekly from June 10 to July 29. The program, which is designed for global Tzu Chi volunteers, normally runs for a year. However, due to limited time the three mentors, who travelled to St. Maarten to facilitate the course, managed to complete the program in two months with the group of motivated and dedicated St. Maarten volunteers. 

Local volunteers learnt of the hard work and challenges the foundation faced in its initial years and the strength and determination of the founder, who persevered to grow and develop one of the largest benevolent organizations in the world today. 

The very intensive, educational and spiritual training, focused on the history of Tzu Chi. Master Cheng Yen began her journey with 30 housewives in her native Taiwan, who each put aside US $0.02 cents from their daily grocery money to help others.

This is how the Buddhist Compassion and relief foundation was formed. The foundation’s first mission was charity and engaging in charitable acts. After Master Cheng Yen observed persons suffering from illnesses stemming from poverty, a second mission was added to the cause: medicine. 

Master Cheng Yen faced 12 years of challenges before she was able to establish the foundation’s first hospital in 1984. At the time doctors and nurses were not willing to work at the facility, which was located in the poor countryside of Hualien, Taiwan.

This led to the formation of the foundation’s third mission, education; followed the fourth mission, humanity; the fifth, environmental protection; sixth, bone marrow transplant; seventh, international relief and eight, community volunteers. 

Despite graduating, volunteers continued study classes on their own, with the first post-graduation one being held on August 19, on the topic: serving as benefactors in each other’s lives. The classes focused on how benefactors can turn the lives of others around. “We must become each other’s benefactors.

“When we help others, we become their benefactors. When they assist us, they become our benefactors; we must work together harmoniously as a team becoming each other’s benefactors. People like this are the most fortunate people in life,” Tzu Chi Foundation said in a press release. 

Tzu Chi said in its press release that volunteers follow Master Cheng Yen’s teachings with love, compassion, joy and unselfish giving. “They strive for the realization of a pure, undefiled land of Tzu Chi through charity for the needy, giving of joy and elimination of suffering. We rely on wisdom of reason and feasibility of execution. Above all, we invite all people with goodwill to cultivate a field of blessings and bring about a society of love.” 

Persons interested in joining the foundation as volunteers are welcomed to attend the study classes, which are held every other Sunday from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. The next study class will be held on Sunday, September 2, at Tzu Chi Foundation, located on L.B. Scott Road next to the ballfield. For more information call tel. 586-3019.

tzu chi Sandra thur

tzu chi ins2 244

tzu certif thur

tzu chi thur janga


Healthcare Insurance Office makes provisions related to Saba airstrip closure

SINT MAARTEN/SABA - The Caribbean Netherlands (CN) Healthcare Insurance Office (Zorgverzekeringskantoor Caribisch Nederland, hereinafter ZVK) has made several provisions in connection with the imminent closure of the Saba airport for the renovation of the airstrip in the period from September 10th to October 9th, 2018, in order to ensure the continuity of medical referrals abroad and emergency evacuations.

It has been agreed with the referring doctors in Saba that in principle all non-emergency medical referrals to St. Maarten, Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, Colombia or the Netherlands, will be scheduled and executed either before or after the closure of the airport.

In cases where medical referrals abroad should prove to be necessary in this period, it has been agreed with the referring doctors that these will be executed by ferry.

In relation thereto, the ZVK has made contractual arrangements with Saba Sea Transport for daily transportation between Saba and St. Maarten with the ferries ‘Dawn II’ and ‘Big B’. Insured persons who wish to travel with the ferry ‘The Edge’, may claim reimbursement of the costs incurred from the ZVK upon return to Saba.

The schedules of the three ferries are as follows:


Morning departure

Afternoon departure


Saba – St. Maarten

St. Maarten - Saba

Saba – St. Maarten

St. Maarten - Saba


8:30 am, Dawn II

9:00 am, The Edge

3:30 pm, The Edge

4:30 pm, Dawn II


8:30 am, Dawn II

9:00 am, The Edge

3:30 pm, The Edge

4:30 pm, Dawn II


8:30 am, Dawn II

9:00 am, The Edge

3:30 pm, The Edge

4:30 pm, Dawn II


8:30 am, Dawn II

7:45 am, Big B

4:00 pm, Big B

4:30 pm, Dawn II


8:30 am, Dawn II

9:00 am, The Edge

3:30 pm, The Edge

4:30 pm, Dawn II


8:30 am, Dawn II

7:45 am, Big B

4:00 pm, Big B

4:30 pm, Dawn II


8:30 am, Dawn II

7:45 am, Big B

4:00 pm, Big B

4:30 pm, Dawn II

As for emergency evacuations by helicopter these, as known. will remain on standby during the period of the airstrip closure. Special provisions have been made for this purpose in relation thereto in collaboration with the Public Entity Saba, including designation of a special landing site at the airport.

In addition, the ZVK recently recruited a second crew member for the helicopters stationed in St. Eustatius, so that the availability of an aircraft for any emergency situations in Saba remains assured. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)


Self Defense classes for Down Syndrome/Special Needs students

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - SXM BJJ is proud to announce that Special Needs Self Defense classes for students with Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (PPD-NOS) will return on Saturdays at SXM BJJ in Cole Bay.

The classes will begin on Saturday, September 8 from 10:30-11:30am and continue throughout the year (breaking for school holidays). Classes take place at the SXM BJJ dojo, 15 Wellington Road in Cole Bay.

Classes will be conducted by Head Instructor Melissa Bardfield. This program evolved out of SXM DOET special event in May 2016 and continued as a weekly class. Bardfield explained: “We had a great response from not only the participants but also our volunteers. It is rewarding, fun and has been an excellent way to connect with members of our community whom are often left out of sports and group activities”.

The program was created with Down Syndrome St Maarten and Caribbean Foundation and was advised by BCBA (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst) Honey Sheridan. Honey Sheridan of ‘Sweet ABA’ (Applied Behavioral Analysis) helped the team develop a ‘story board’ with pictures for students on the Autism Spectrum. 

The classes are offered for a special price of $25 per month to all special needs students as part of SXM BJJ's community outreach. Participation in the weekly consecutive classes is encouraged and pre-registration is requested.

For more information about the support services offered by the Down Syndrome Foundation please contact Mireya Torrenga at 721 580 1994 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information on ABA please contact BCBA Honey Sheridan Tel 1 721 586-9238 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information on Jiu Jitsu and Self Defense classes please contact Head Instructor Melissa Bardfield, tel 721 544-4444 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Kidz at Sea welcomed Essilor of America

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On June 21st through 23rd, Kidz at Sea Foundation welcomed a team of Essilor of America employees and volunteer eye care professionals to St. Maarten to perform free eye exams to those in need.

These volunteers have been providing free eye exams and corrective eye wear, to those in need, on St. Maarten for the last three consecutive years and on Anguilla the last two consecutive years.

Essilor’s mission is improving lives by improving sight and working with organizations like Kidz at Sea is just one way the company lives this mission. Screening children is especially important as 80 percent of a child’s learning occurs through their eyes.

Essilor coordinated a group of optometrists and volunteers from the U.S, including three doctors, two opticians and one nurse, as well as all the necessary equipment for testing. They worked diligently to ensure that any person that turned up to be examined was not turned away, despite a fairly heavy pre-coordinated schedule of patients.

This year between Milton Peters College, the Sundial School, the White & Yellow Cross, the Teachers’ Resource Center and Blossom Centre, they saw 648 patients in just three days. The majority in St. Maarten, representing approximately 1 % of our entire Dutch side population! Participants ranged in age from 3 to 80; with all ranges of sight.

80% of the patients seen need corrective eye wear. It just goes to show the critical role of protecting your eyes, with the potential damaging effects of the sun, diabetes and hypertension all taking their toll. Many of the adults we saw unsolicited had never had an eye exam—almost all of them had degradation of vision.

Kidz at Sea is very appreciative of the Essilor team and all that they do to support us and St. Maarten both on and off the water.

In the hopes of spreading awareness here are some key issues about eye health every resident of St. Maarten should know.

Non-aging causes of Eye Damage

From sun:  UV (ultraviolet) rays of the sun damage sensitive cells in the eyes which can affect vision.  The effects of UV rays on the eyes build up over the years and may increase the chance of developing ocular problems later on like cataracts, for example.  Even short-term eye damage is possible with exposure to the sun, such as photo conjunctivitis, a form of "pink eye," which is an inflammation of the outer membrane of the eye.

The highest UV exposure for the eyes is in the morning and mid-afternoon.  Protecting children's eyes is very important as the research shows that a significant amount of lifetime exposure to UV rays may occur before the age of 18.  To protect your eyes, choose polarized sunglasses (polarization limits transmission to no more than 1 percent UVB and 1 percent UVA rays) that have lenses large enough to cover the eye and prevent as much light as possible from entering (wrap-around sunglasses are the best), and darker grey or brown lenses along with wide-brimmed hats are the way to go.

Related to diabetes:  People who suffer from diabetes, are also prone to diabetic retinopathy, a disease to the back of the eye, the retina, which progresses to cause permanent vision loss.  This condition can affect both eyes and the longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy.  This is a very serious condition that is 100% caused by diabetes, the systemic disease, and can lead to serious complications with eyesight.  There are things you can do if you are diabetic to help prevent or slow down the development of diabetic retinopathy such as:  taking your medication as prescribed, sticking to your diet, exercising regularly, controlling high blood pressure, and avoiding alcohol and smoking.

Related to hypertension:  Untreated high blood pressure can also affect your eyesight and lead to hypersensitive retinopathy, a disease to the back of the eye, the retina, which progresses to cause permanent vision loss.  Since hypertension is an asymptomatic disease (there are no specific symptoms other than headaches and vision problems), early stages of hypersensitive retinopathy can only be discovered during a comprehensive eye exam.  The best way to prevent this condition is to adequately control your blood pressure through proper diet and exercise and take your high blood pressure medication as prescribed.  Seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis for routine comprehensive care is a great preventive measure.

Related to use of technology:  Research is still ongoing, but some studies indicate that staring at the screen for too long can cause squinting, over-straining of the eye muscles, and headaches.  Laptops, smartphones and tablets are all part of our daily life, but there are some tips on how to preserve your eyesight while surfing the web.  First, take regular breaks from the screen and do not spend too much time staring at a bright screen in a dark place. More importantly, get your eyes examined and if you have prescription eyeglasses, make sure to wear them as prescribed.

About Essilor of America, Inc.

Essilor, the leading manufacturer of optical lenses in the United States, is driven by the company's mission of improving lives by improving sight. A pioneer in the development and production of ophthalmic lenses, Essilor employs more than 10,000 people throughout North America. Essilor manufactures optical lenses under the Varilux®, Crizal®, Transitions®, Xperio UV™, Eyezen™, and other Essilor brand names. Essilor Laboratories of America, Inc. is the largest and most trusted optical lab network in the U.S. and offers a wide choice of products and services to eyecare professionals across the nation. Essilor of America, Inc. (Essilor) is a subsidiary of Paris-based Essilor International, a publicly held company traded on the Euronext Paris stock exchange (Reuters: ESSI.PA).

About The Essilor Vision Foundation

The Essilor Vision Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public, non-profit organization, based in Dallas, Texas, dedicated to helping people achieve better lives through better sight by creating and supporting activities that advance good vision and its benefits to those who need it most.  For more information visit:


September 6: National Day of Reflection - #906reflections

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On September 6, 2018, the Government of St. Maarten wants the general public “to stand” as a nation as we reflect on the passing of Hurricane Irma/Maria.

We are now calling on the nation to come together, to stop, pause, and reflect on what that experience meant to us, as a people.

One year later we are here. We overcame the seemingly insurmountable together. We have to reflect on lessons learnt, battles won, challenges we overcame, and the disappointments and fear we have conquered.

In order to acknowledge what happened on September 6, the Government of St. Maarten wants two minutes of reflection throughout the community. To remind ourselves that indeed it is possible to rebuild better and stronger, as we did after Hurricane Luis, 23 years before.

During that time, we will also honor our brave, our first responders, the many unsung heroes, ourselves and the ones we lost during the cataclysmic weather phenomenon known as the worst hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean to have hit our shore.

We request that all organizations use the time before September 6, 2018 as a teaching moment, and to come together with loved ones, friends, colleagues’ associates, acquaintances. We should come together and share that which sustained us all. That which took us from strength to strength to be where we are 1 year later.

Thus, on September 6, 2018 at precisely 9:06 a.m., we are asking that public and private schools, all businesses and all government entities to take this moment to stop and reflect. Come to a complete standstill and offer our moment of reverence to the nation of St. Maarten. #906reflections


Maso – Redefining the Impossible, Giving Hope to Other Survivors

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “An ultimate test of my character, forcing me to trust my heart and reach deep inside for that strength and willpower.” said founder of the Still Beautiful Foundation, this year’s partner of CIBC FirstCaribbean Walk for the Cure, Marcelina “Maso” Loblack.

May marked six months that she was re-diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, six years after her first diagnosis in 2012. Turning her story into one of strength and purpose, Marcelina founded Still Beautiful in 2014, with a focus on cancer awareness, reaching out to breast cancer patients in particular with personalized care and providing counseling and education.

Fast forward, re-diagnosis, surgery and sixteen radiation treatments later, Marcelina was given the proverbial clean bill by her Oncologist. An overwhelming feeling, having won the battle for a second time. Now, Marcelina says she is back and better than before. “Cancer truly is a defining moment. It has made me redefine the word “impossible”, and since I did, nothing will ever be the same”.

Stories of strength, such as this one has been the bank’s driving force behind Walk for the Cure for the past seven years, raising funds to provide care and counseling to cancer patients across the region. Still Beautiful foundation was thrilled and welcomed the sponsorship, much needed for the foundation to continue its efforts and move into its fifth year of caring for survivors.

“From the day you’re diagnosed, you are a survivor, every day you wake up, you’re a survivor!” Loblack exclaimed. Still Beautiful foundation has counseled over fifty persons and their families and worked with thirty chemotherapy patients over the years. The foundation has brought breast cancer awareness to the forefront via presentations to National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA), Rotary Sunrise, Leonald Connor School and other schools and organizations on the island.

Believing in the benefits of staying active, Marcelina recently started Crossfit - challenging and strengthening her body. “At first, I thought it would be too much for my body, but the coaches guide me and tailor workouts when needed…it’s great, I’m really enjoying it!” she laughed.

Through proper nutrition and staying active she has been able to combat the side effects of her treatments. She encourages women to make their wellbeing a priority and love themselves, also, to know their bodies and get regular check-ups and screenings. Given a third chance at life, Marcelina says she will live hers with love, laughter and creating great memories. “We are only given one life, I’m going to make mine count!”

CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Walk for the Cure will take place on Saturday October 6th at 5:00 a.m., kicking off at the bank’s Philipsburg branch at Emmaplein 1.

Tickets are available as of September 1st at both CIBC FirstCaribbean Philipsburg and Cole Bay branches and from the Still Beautiful Foundation. Persons wishing to make a contribution to the Walk can do so via the walk’s donation drop boxes and or CIBC FirstCaribbean Account # C/A 10055400.


Second Casino Suspect turns himself in

PHILIPSBURG - On Friday August 23rd, 2018 during the evening, the second suspect in the attempted armed robbery of the Coliseum Casino identified as Samuel Oliver Smith also known as “Chris” voluntarily turned himself in at the Police headquarters in Philipsburg.

He was immediately arrested as a suspect in this case and placed into custody for further investigation. The Special Unit Robbery continues to investigate this case. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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