Visit to the Netherlands

In the week of January 15th through January 19th, 2018, Wim de Visser, General Director of SVOBE schools (MPC/Sundial ) visited a number of schools in the Netherlands that had donated money and supplies for our schools through fundraising after the passing of  hurricane Irma.

Thousands of secondary school students from more than 20 different schools had collected money for our schools on Saint Martin Day and during the Christmas season in different creative ways in order to achieve this goal, ranging from a sponsor walk to door-to-door collection; horse-back rounds; swimming marathons and even sales of home-made pancakes and peas soup.

To the last penny, SVOBE shall invest every contribution in supporting those students –from both schools- that are in dire need of sustenance.

A working group comprising of colleagues from both schools have earmarked four goals to start with.  Additional goals, that are important to the process of offering relief to our students, shall be included.

The four main goals are:
- Contribution to breakfast programs in both schools;
-Organization of an “after-school student tutoring program”, including food and beverages;
-Purchase of uniforms and clothing for students that have incurred (hurricane) damage and in whose cases it is clear that the parents are financially impaired; -Remission of (part of) the parental contribution to the school, namely: rental fee on textbooks and costs of activities. The care team in collaboration with department management will forward recommendations to the school board concerning the matter.

Meanwhile, it has become quite evident that a number of students are in urgent need of (eye) glasses and that parents cannot afford the costs. The money donated will therefore also be used for that purpose.
Monetary contributions and supplies such as (school) bags, study supplies, sports equipment, office equipment, etc. are pouring in from all angles -from local foundations and companies as well as from foundations and companies from Curaçao, Aruba, the US and the Netherlands.

The Dutch government has also made a terrific contribution: we have received many textbooks, photocopiers, cabinets, school desks, digital school boards and computers. We are very grateful and happy for this constructive support.

During Mr. De Visser's visit to the Netherlands, various meetings were organized with policy makers at the Ministry of Education (OCW) in The Hague and Mr. De Visser had the opportunity to talk with the Dutch Secretary General. In addition,  intensive contact with the top OCW representative for the Caribbean has been maintained. Both  Secretary and Representative are quite supportive regarding  our plans about the final restoration of the schools and the possibility of finding a different location for Sundial School. It is important to arrive at a comprehensive coherent plan for the reconstruction and relocation of our schools. This is also an expressed mandate voiced by our Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports in Sint Maarten. Highest priority to its completion and implementation will be given in the coming weeks. Much has already been committed to “paper” digitally.

All in all it was a hectic whirlwind visit that demanded energy but also generated lots of energy in return. Mr. De Visser stated: 'It is with immense pride that I look back at the honor of being the ambassador for Sint Maarten education and most specifically for MPC and Sundial School'.

Mr. De Visser has personally observed that the restoration of Sint Maarten, especially regarding education, still has high priority and that’s a good feeling to share. We are not forgotten and many people and institutions are there for us wishing Sint Maarten a prosperous reconstruction. Thanks to all for your commitment totally devoid of self-interest.