Red Cross Sint Maarten

Red Cross continues recovery projects in 2020

Simpson Bay—Red Cross is starting a new phase of the home repair, a roof repair project, in the coming months. In the new phase, Red Cross aims to repair the roofs of 200 more houses. Teams of Red Cross will be going from January 16, 2020 to Philipsburg to start with the selection of applicants.

Red Cross has been providing recovery aid since Hurricane Irma devastated the island in 2017 from food voucher to school meals and home repair projects. In the first Home Repair project, funded from donations from the Dutch public in 2017, Red Cross has enabled 669 households to repair the outside of their home.  The project provided material to most of the households. Based on social criteria, 187 households also received help in the form of construction crews. In this project help was given to people from Dutch Quarter, Middle Region, Sucker Garden, Over the Bank, Fort William, Cay Hill, Cay Bay, Cole Bay and St Peters.

“In the upcoming roof repair project, Red Cross will focus again on the most vulnerable. Red Cross will provide material and construction workers to fix 200 additional houses.” says project manager Esmeralda van den Bout. “We intend to work in new areas.” Those areas will be announced once selected. Social and technical eligibility criteria have been posted on the Red Cross Sint Maarten Facebook page. The project does not focus on reconstruction of houses, but on roof repair. Houses which need full reconstruction or are accepted into other repair projects  will not qualify. The project will run from January to September 2020. The roof repair project will be funded through the World Bank Sint Maarten Recovery Trust Fund, but is not the same as the Home Repair project of the NRPB.

In addition to the roof repair project, Red Cross will continue to contribute to the recovery and the resilience of St Maarten through its projects. “The aim of the Livelihoods project is to provide people with training in different skill sets” says project manager Fernando Suarez Jiminez. “These skills can provide and supplement income after a next hurricane.” Together with NIPA, Red Cross started an air conditioning maintenance course in October 2019. In January, itwill start a baking course which Red Cross is organizing together with CIFSEF, along with sewing course that is also planned to start in the same month. Also, the need of a second group of the air conditioning maintenance course is being evaluated. During the first months of the year, a micro-entrepreneurship training is planned to start.

This month, the Disaster Risk Reduction project will launch a disaster awareness song contest. All amateur songwriters and performers can enter the contest. With the help of mentors, contestants will write and perform their songs during several smaller events from February to May and one large event on the 13th of June. The final event will also feature well-known guest stars from the Caribbean and, just like all Red Cross events, will be free to attend. The song contest supplements efforts to promote household safety plans and other activities aimed to increase disaster preparedness. Red Cross is also working together with the Ministry of Education and the Fire Department to prepare school children for hazards and disasters. “We really believe that working together with multiple partners is crucial to increasing the disaster resilience of Sint Maarten” says project manager Tamas Marki. “We cannot prevent hurricanes and other natural hazards from happening, but we can prevent them from becoming a disaster in our communities.” More information on the song contest can be found on Facebook or can be gathered at the Red Cross building in Simpson Bay or at the Red Cross service point in Philipsburg.

Red Cross will also continue in 2020 with the training of members of community-based organisations in psychological first-aid. In 2019, Red Cross has started to train 5 different organisations with the help of local facilitators. 

Red Cross is also working on other projects with other organizations. Information on those projects will be shared soon.

Red Cross signs agreement with NIPA for vocational training

CAY HILL—Red Cross St. Maarten signed an agreement with NIPA to facilitate the first course in Red Cross’ Livelihoods project, a jobs program aimed at giving people on the island with few or no job prospects more opportunities for work.

Livelihoods Project Manager Fernando Suarez-Jimenez shakes hands with NIPA chairlady Peggy-Ann Dros-Richardson as Red Cross Head of Mission Fanny de Swarte looks on.

St. Maarten’s National Institute of Professional Advancement (NIPA) will be providing four months of training in Air conditioning & Refrigeration maintenance to 20 people who have already registered and qualified for the Livelihoods project. The course is being executed by the NIPA , in close collaboration with their regional partner – MIC- Institute of Technology, and offers participants an accredited  certificate upon successful completion . This course is the first in a series of training programs that Red Cross will be offering to help people here make their income sources more resilient to disasters.

“This first training launches the activities of the Livelihoods project,” Livelihoods Project Manager Fernando Suarez Jimenez said. “We plan to continue supporting vulnerable people in Sint Maarten during the next months in order to strengthen and diversify their sources of incomes.”

Red Cross began an open call recently for people who are unemployed or only work part-time to register for Livelihoods. Already more than 100 people have registered, and the Livelihoods team is evaluating all registrants to determine whether they qualify for the project. Red Cross hopes to help the people on the island who most struggle to provide for themselves and their families. Together with the NESC ( National Employment Service Center ) , a unit in the Division of Labor Affairs & Social Services, the Red Cross intends to continue the push to source the most vulnerable persons to benefit from these programs.

NIPA, and by extension MIC – Institute of Technology , is proud to partner with the Red Cross, and thereby adding consistent value to the labor market, by graduating qualified tradesman in all technical vocational areas.

Livelihoods is the latest offering from Red Cross, which has been providing aid through food and home repair projects since Hurricane Irma devastated the island in 2017. Red Cross will soon also be launching a project aimed at making residents more aware of how to reduce the effects of storms and other hazards on them and their communities.

Red Cross hopes to begin training courses in air conditioning, maritime, sewing and other areas within a few weeks. People on the island who want to boost their opportunities can still register in person at Red Cross headquarters in Simpson Bay or the Service Point at the WIFOL Building in Philipsburg or by calling 545-2333 / 545-2304.

Red Cross to raise funds for Bahamas relief

SIMPSON BAY–Red Cross St. Maarten will be collecting money to provide urgent relief aid to residents of The Bahamas who have been impacted by Hurricane Dorian this week.

Concerned residents who are willing to help can donate cash at either Red Cross location in Simpson Bay or Philipsburg or provide a bank transfer through the Windward Islands Bank: WIB 83680007.

Hurricane Dorian, at Category 5, hit The Bahamas on Monday and lingered in the nearby waters for several hours, compounding its devastation. Red Cross St. Maarten has been approached by various people on Sint Maarten who want to do something for the population of the Bahamas.

 “Our hearts go out to the people of the Bahamas. It is overwhelming how many people approached us to see what they could do to help,” said Branch Manager Mitch Horsford. “The images from the Bahamas brings back our own experience of hurricanes that hit Sint Maarten and the thankfulness for sister islands that provided help at those times.”

Through the Red Cross Movement, Red Cross is already started to bring help to those affected. The International Federation of the Red Cross had already placed relief supplies on the Bahamas ahead of the storm, and these items will help with the most urgent needs. More goods are on the way to Bahamas. In the next couple of weeks and months, more help will be needed. A needs assessment will take place to determine what is needed specifically.

The money raised on St. Maarten will go via the International Federation of the Red Cross as well as The Bahamas Red Cross  to the population. Red Cross will not be collecting clothes, food items and such for the Bahamas. With the funds, the international Red Cross will be able to address identified needs such as food, water, sanitation, shelter (tarpaulins) and other needs that might arise in the upcoming weeks and months. Cash donations can be made in person at the Red Cross Service point at the W.J.A. Nisbeth Road #89, the WIFOL Building, in Philipsburg from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or at the Airport Road 34 in Simpson Bay from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Online bank transfers should be clearly marked as “Dorian Bahamas” in the description of the transaction. Red Cross St. Maarten will continue to update the community about the reach of their donations.

New service point for Red Cross

Philipsburg St Maarten— Friday May 31, Red Cross opened a service center in Philipsburg at the WIFOL building on the pondfill # 89. The service center will be manned by a dedicated group of Senior citizens volunteers who will provide information on ongoing and upcoming projects of the Red Cross. In addition, persons can also sign up to become a volunteer as well as requests for first aid during events can also be submitted at the service center. The service center will also have a limited amount of clothing in stock for distribution for those who are in need.

The opening of the service point coincided with a celebration for Red Cross’s 43 year anniversary on the island. “We are proud of the work we have been doing for the last 43 years especially after the passing of hurricane Irma two years ago.” says Nadia Chirlias, President of Red Cross Sint Maarten. “As a humanitarian organization, we are aim to serve our community and grateful for our volunteers who give their time and support to the organization.”

The office at the Airport Road in Simpson Bay will remain the main office. Most activities will still take place there. In addition, clothes donations can be dropped off at the Wifol building as well.  “We know that it is not always easy for people to come to Simpson Bay so we have made ourselves more accessible for the beneficiaries to reach us.” says Nadia Chirlias. “Our goal in the near future is to have more service points within other areas.”

In cooperation with the Sint Maarten Senior Association as well as CISEF/WIFOL, the service center became a reality, and will be open on Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm every starting June 3rd,2019.  Come and join us, and be a volunteer today, it is very rewarding to serve!!!!!

People who have questions about Red Cross programs can contact the organization at 545-2333 or 545-2304.

‘Last call for home repairs,’ says Red Cross

SIMPSON BAY—Red Cross St. Maarten plans to stop accepting new registrants for its Home Repair Program on May 26. After that, only people who have already registered can receive Red Cross help with materials for their roofs, windows, walls and doors in the final stage of the year-long repair program.

Project Support Officer Fabienne Janvier is among the team of people who visits homes on behalf of the Home Repair Program. Residents have until May 26 to request help from Red Cross.

People who are still under tarpaulins or whose house still suffers from some exterior damage can contact Red Cross to join the Home Repair Program, which is busy helping improve homes for hundreds of people on the island. Red Cross has provided food and shelter aid to the island for the more than 18 months since Hurricane Irma devastated the island.

Red Cross expects to be finished with the program by the end of August, says Birgit Vaes, HRP Program Manager. The Home Repair Program has been responsible for assessing hundreds of homes in nine areas of Dutch St. Maarten: Cay Bay, Cay Hill, Cole Bay, Dutch Quarter, Fort Willem, Middle Region, Over the Bank, St. Peters and Sucker Garden.

“Our monitoring visits will continue for people who have already registered to help them complete their repairs, but we won’t be accepting new households into the Home Repair Program,” Vaes said. “It is very important that people who need help with materials contact us by the deadline on May 26.”

Red Cross deploys teams to determine how much need a household has and for everyone who qualifies, to advise on repairs and materials. Red Cross provides materials for free through a material list that beneficiaries can take to local suppliers and a brief training course and a manual for performing proper repairs. Everyone who qualifies for the repair program receives advice from Red Cross’ team of professional architects and engineers. Those beneficiaries are eligible for extra support, if needed, until July 20.

As home repair work winds down, Red Cross will be introducing new projects in cooperation with other St. Maarten organizations to further help with the recovery of Irma and the enhancement of the resilience of the island, through funding for example job opportunity projects and skills training, says Head of Mission Fanny de Swarte. The Red Cross plans to launch its new programs before the end of August.

“Since the beginning of the Home Repair Program, our goal has been to provide safe, resilient housing for the people of St. Maarten,” said De Swarte. “Now, we are working on other projects to complement the island’s redevelopment in collaboration with local organizations.”

Red Cross has provided hundreds of thousands dollars in aid to St. Maarten since Hurricane Irma in September 2017 – some of it in early relief efforts with tarps and bottled water and such and the rest in recovery and aid program. Red Cross donated thousands of breakfasts and lunches to schoolchildren across Dutch St. Maarten through its school feeding program and provided money to households to buy groceries in its food voucher program. Both of those programs have ended.

People who have questions about Red Cross programs can contact the organization at 545-2333 or 545-2304.

Red Cross to launch surveys this Saturday

SIMPSON BAY—Red Cross St. Maarten wants to help revive the island’s economy and inform the public about disaster risks and prevention, but the organization needs to ask some questions first.

Starting on Saturday, Red Cross teams will be conducting house-to-house surveys to learn from residents what they, their neighbors and their communities need to improve their job opportunities and to better prepare for disasters. Red Cross wants to know how things have changed, how residents’ jobs have been impacted and how their neighborhoods have fared after Hurricane Irma in September 2017.  

Livelihoods Project Manager Fernando Suárez Jiménez said Red Cross hopes to gauge what residents most need to guide the next phase of the Hurricane Irma Recovery Mission.

“The survey has as its objective to know the needs of people in the zones where it is going to be conducted in order to design better Red Cross projects,” said Suárez Jiménez.

Red Cross teams will be knocking on doors in Philipsburg, Hope Estate, Over the Pond, Pond Island, Belvedere, Saunders, Mary’s Fancy, Betty’s Estate, Ebenezer, South Reward and Cul-de-Sac for at least two weekends, on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.

Red Cross is considering projects to spur entrepreneurship and to strengthen community involvement and hopes that residents share their thoughts with the organization.

Red Cross to begin home repairs in new districts

SIMPSON BAY—Red Cross St. Maarten will start visiting damaged homes in Cole Bay, Cay Bay and Cay Hill as the year-long Home Repair Program continues.

Red Cross technical officer Mike De Pinto and technical team lead Åsa Jonsson talk with a beneficiary during a recent home visit. Red Cross teams have started visits to beneficiaries in Cole Bay, Cay Hill and Cay Bay as the Home Repair Program continues. (Sammy Slot photo)

The program provides materials to fix the roofs of people whose homes had been damaged in Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Red Cross, also, provides technical assistance to households that qualify for the program, which aims to help Dutch St. Maarten residents with the greatest and most urgent need.

The program is already active in Dutch Quarter, Sucker Garden, Middle Region, Over the Bank, Fort Willem and St Peters where, already, residents have received visits and support for their repairs.

Head of Mission Fanny de Swarte said she hoped that the Home Repair Program would have started sooner. Red Cross prefers to work with local staff. There was a shortage due to the amount of repairing and reconstruction that needed to take place. Red Cross hired an international team of engineers and architects to provide quality technical advice to households here to improve their homes, a project that is part of the Netherlands Red Cross’ Hurricane Irma Recovery Mission.

“At the moment, over 450 families have been assessed and more than 300 families have received financial and technical assistance,” said De Swarte, a disaster management expert. “The first 46 houses have received their final visit and have repaired their roofs according to the guidelines from VROMI and Red Cross.” 

In the Home Repair Program, Red Cross interviews residents to determine the amount of damage the house sustained and the amount of need the family or individual has. Eligible residents become beneficiaries of the program and receive a bill of quantities (also called a material list), a document that shows the materials needed for their repairs. It takes about 45 days after the first visit for Red Cross to completely assess the home and prepare the BOQ.

Project manager Birgit Vaes said she is working toward reducing the length of time spent waiting by beneficiaries between visits of Red Cross staff to ensure that people receive their BOQs and collect their materials by June 1, when the hurricane season starts.

“Once a family receives a first visit from a Red Cross team, they will be invited to a workshop on hurricane-resistant repairs and will receive a BOQ to buy material,” Vaes said. “We aim to have assisted with the repair of around 1,000 houses before the start of next hurricane season.”

In 2019, Red Cross is hoping to collaborate more with other NGOs on St. Maarten. In addition to home repairs, Red Cross wants to launch projects that focus on community-based disaster risk reduction, psychosocial support, work readiness and vocational training intended to make residents more resilient.

The Red Cross also supports the Waste2Work project, an entrepreneurship training and stimulus program that operates on the island. The first startup is an upcycle center that aims to turn debris into, among other things, furniture.

In the weeks following Hurricane Irma, Red Cross staff and volunteers distributed more than 11,000 tarps, 8,000 food parcels and 116,000 liters of water. In the first half of 2018, Red Cross provided vouchers to more than 4,200 households to buy groceries in the Food Voucher Program, which ended in August. Red Cross, also, fed more than 3,100 children with breakfast and lunch every school day for several months during the School Feeding Program, which ended in June. Already, Red Cross has through various programs invested 8.1 million euros of money donated by residents of the Netherlands toward St. Maarten’s recovery.

Residents can call Red Cross to register or with questions at 545-2333 or 545-2304.