SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Community development and support continue post Irma with new collaboration between St Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and the Red Cross. As efforts to build back better across St Maarten continue, SMDF and the Red Cross have partnered together to help build contribute towards stronger community life for all.
Over the course of the year SMDF and the Red Cross will work with community minded residents, community councils and businesses to create outdoor social spaces for people to freely use. Speaking about the main idea of the project, SMDF Managing Director Makhicia Brooks spoke of the value of communities and making personal connections. “Outside of individual households, communities are often the first line of contact amongst residents and SMDF and Red Cross both see how these connections can be deepened by creating communal spaces,” said Brooks.
The partnering organizations shared more of how community relationships can be assets during times of emergencies. “Good and trusting community relations play an important role in a society’s resilience to disaster and general wellbeing. Community spaces that are easy to access and free to use help to promote wellbeing and social relations,” said a joint statement.
“Examples of outdoor, community designed and managed, social spaces exist all over the world and have proven benefits to residents. We see how these spaces would be just as beneficial to St Maarten. With the help of residents, councils, and businesses, we want to stimulate and support the initial creation of these spaces. Once created we will then hand them over to local committees to manage and take full advantage of in the future”, said Kevin Davies, of the Netherlands Red Cross.
To encourage long term use of the spaces, public access and minimize potential future costs the paces will be outdoor, multipurpose and durable. Community residents will be asked to share their visions for the spaces including they might like to see in the spaces, how they would like to use them in the future, and whether they would like to be involved in the long term.
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