A scene during the Zoom meeting.
PHILIPSBURG--The Resources 4 Community Resilience (R4CR) project was officially launched during a Zoom meeting and Facebook livestream on Wednesday, November 18.
The ceremony was hosted by radio personality Kevin “Suppa” Petrona (who is also the local R4CR Communication and Outreach expert) and Jose Sommers (R4CR Capacity and Training Manager).
The R4CR programme is a grant scheme that focuses exclusively on financing and strengthening local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). The programme is financed by the government of the Netherlands via the St. Maarten Trust Fund. The latter is administered by the World Bank, implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) and executed by the VNGI (in Dutch: “Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten International”) in close cooperation with NRPB, Foresee Foundation and other local partners.
Leading the small cast of speakers at the event was Chris Johnson, Dutch Representative in Philipsburg, who commended the CSOs (also known as NGOs – Non-Governmental Organisations) on their “remarkable resilience” for helping people during difficult times. He fondly recalled the tireless work of the late Cassandra Gibbs and what her I Can Foundation did for children in need.
“On behalf of the Netherlands we are very happy that the R4CR programme is taking place and congratulate the NGO’s who received a grant to execute their project,” Johnson stated.
“We here at the NRPB are proud to be a part of the R4CR launch,” NRPB Director Claret Connor said. “R4CR directly supports Civil Society Organisations by funding local initiatives. The project will allow these CSOs to continue their commitment in tackling poverty, championing environmental protection, taking care of the elderly, investing in day-care and after school programmes, violence prevention, and much more.”
Connor is also chairperson of the Project Technical Committee which is an independent body in charge of vetting R4CR grant projects to ensure compliance with the various World Bank and Trust Fund regulations.
The World Bank was represented at the launch by Alex Kamurasi and Arsala Deane who both emphasised the important role CSOs play in the local community, but also the World Bank’s commitment to assure the project achieves its main objective which is to ultimately improve the lives of the St. Maarten people.
Closing off the official part of the launch was Elger Vermeer, Programme Director of the VNGI, who (together with colleague Eline Vermeer) flew in from the Netherlands to clear the last operational hurdles to R4CR’s full scale launch. Vermeer stressed that the R4CR programme is not only a funding mechanism that will help CSOs build and strengthen their capacity, but more importantly it is a platform for the CSOs to exchange ideas, experiences and establish a growing network. “The CSOs are the heart of the local community and therefore the heart of the R4CR programme,” he noted.
After the official speeches, Petrona transformed into radio personality “Suppa” and gave each of the twelve grant recipients exactly one minute to pitch their project to the public.
The Carib Swim Team kicked off the pitches explaining their project to upgrade the pumping and filtration system at the pool and install LED solar lights around the compound. The Philipsburg Jubilee Library plans to set up satellite libraries in different districts to offer youngsters reading facilities closer to home, while St Maarten Early Childhood Development Association will assist day care centres with an after-school grocery programme, a food handlers course and a train-the-trainer course in creative movement.
Helping Hands Foundation received a grant for a wheelchair bus for the elderly. This grant is a collaborative effort between R4CR and Samenwerkende Fondsen. K1 Britannia received a grant to execute staff training in disaster management and disaster relief while Reading Rainbow will rebuild the final section of their playschool that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma and upgrade the facility to cope with the COVID-19 realities.
The St. Maarten AIDS Foundation pitched their project to support uninsured HIV patients with purchasing their much-needed medication and securing lab tests. The Nature Foundation received a grant to execute the Vervet monkey management project while the Senior Citizen Foundation will use their grant to repair part of the facilities that were damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Foundation Catholic Education will be upgrading the playground at the Sister Marie Laurence School in collaboration with the Middle Region Community Council. The continuation of the spay/neuter vaccination programme for stray animals is the main focus of Animal Defender’s grant project.
The final one-minute pitch was reserved for the recently (formally) established Nanny Nurssy Foundation who will use the grant to repair their facilities that were severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. The foundation hopes to give the homeless, the needy and the infirm a decent place to recharge. The launch ended with the symbolic signing of the grant agreements in which all twelve CSOs simultaneously lifted their pen, their grant agreement, signed and showed the signed document. That marked the official launch of the R4CR project in which US $452,000 will be invested in the St. Maarten economy via local CSOs.
The next step in the process is the Pre-Disbursement Training (PDT) which the CSO’s will complete before the funds can be (partially) released to their projects. The PDT is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday (November 23 and November 24) at the gym of Hillside Christian School (Asha Stevens Campus) in Cay Hill.
For more information about the R4CR programme or details of the selected projects please visit www.r4cr.org or the Facebook page R4CRSXM.