Paramaribo/ St. Maarten– Recently, four representatives of St. Maarten Red Cross left to attend the regionally organized Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WATSAN) Technical Training for overseas branches in Suriname. The aim of the 6 day training is to give participants the basic knowledge to analyze and test water and to purge water of disease germs. Travin Joseph (assistant Disaster Coordinator), Natasha Carty (Disaster Coordinator), Othneilia Binns (First-Aid Instructor) and Nadjesca Gumbs (General Manager) volunteered and was selected to take part in the training.
The St. Maarten Red Cross branch was invited by The Aruba Red Cross Association to attend the training which they organized in collaboration with The Suriname Red Cross.
The WATSAN training consisted of Red Cross Volunteers from Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Suriname and St. Maarten. Aruba also took the initiative to include the W.E.B Aruba (Water & Energy Company) workers as participants in the WATSAN Training.
The WATSAN training is just one of a series of trainings provided by our neighboring island in order to build a stronger National and Regional Red Cross Society within the Caribbean.
The first training was the Mega V training that was held in May 2017 and was successfully completed by Travin Joseph, Assistant Disaster Coordinator SXM. The ODK and Mega V software is geared towards being able to efficiently and effectively assess a community in order to streamline distribution of humanitarian aid. The Mega V will improve the response time by 12 minutes, allowing a complete assessment to be done within 3 minutes. Mr. Joseph will be conducting Mega V presentations in SXM to bring the rest of his colleagues up to speed with the Mega V program that is to be launched before the end of 2017.
The launch is dependent on the collaboration and cooperation on certain private and public sector businesses and organizations. The Notebook for the Mega V program is donated by Antek, IT-solutions and software. Additional requests have been made by other businesses and organizations for equipment and materials. The program will need a laptop, barcode scanner and 10 Android phones with camera focus in order to fully prepare the participants for the upcoming training in Aruba. This third training will have an integrated approach allowing participant to put together all the knowledge and experience gained in the other training to practical use in hands on exercises. One of the great advantages of the organized trainings is that it allows the participants to not only network and exchange best practices but it also allows them a chance to bond and work as a team.
This sentiment of achieving collaborate goals during these training will help to keep the momentum alive when called upon to respond to national and regional emergencies. Although the situation in Benati-mofo is not categorized as an emergency situation the SXM participants were elated to know that they played a part in providing 80 % of the households in Benati-mofo (a village near Marowijne, Moengo) with clean drinking water. Other parts of the WATSAN Training included the CBHFA course (Community-Based Health and First Aid) as well as detailed community assessment exercises and an introduction to the SPHERE standards (The Humanitarian Character and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response). The participants were pleased that essential components of the Strategy 2020 (Saving Lives, Changing Minds) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies were covered.
The trainers/ facilitators, with almost 2 decades of experience, stressed the importance of being prepared intervene with the appropriate approach during moments of crisis. In situations of chaos and despair it is of utmost importance that Red Cross volunteer relief workers treat beneficiaries in a humane and dignified manner stipulated in the SPHERE Project Handbook. It is also vital to conduct a good assessment of the community (community specific needs) along with precise calculations of the necessary supplies and resources.
The WATSAN Training has heartened The SXM Red Cross Association to continue to push forward in organizing eventful trainings and activities to meet international standards of the federation. The SXM Red Cross is urging the community of Sint Maarten to get involved and volunteer at any organization geared towards humanitarian work because together we are stronger.