Soualiga Social Movement happy with Cay Hill Community Council

POSTED: 03/19/13 1:24 AM

St. Maarten – The board of the Soualiga Social Movement (SSM) congratulated the residents of Cay Hill for the arrival of their own Community Council.  “The process that started in early January has finally resulted in the community of Cay Hill having a voice to represent the interests and issues of the residents that live there,” the movement said in a statement.

The process started with a small group of young men from Cay Hill wanting to play a part in the development of their neighborhood. After seeing employment projects being developed for young men in other districts in St. Maarten which allowed them to work in their neighborhoods, these ‘boys on the block’ wanted to find employment in their own community. They approached the Soualiga Social Movement to help them organize themselves and said they would be open to also help with community activities.

SSM then took the initiative to contact Bernard Serrant of the Dutch Quarter Community Council because SSM was and is of the opinion that broad support was needed to help the youth in Cay Hill with the issues they were facing.  “In our first meeting with Mr. Serrant he elaborated on how the “Oasis Games” community activities held in Dutch Quarter helped to address some issues in that neighborhood and advised SSM how we could go about holding the same event in Cay Hill. It was decided that the same young men should be called in for a meeting at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex,” SSM stated.

In this meeting the young men got a chance to express themselves as the SSM outlined a plan of action to address some of their issues as a community. Board members of the Soualiga Social Movement explained to these young men that the entire community needed to be involved to effectively tackle the issues of Cay Hill. “With the cooperation and encouragement of Nicky Owen of the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex, we were able to meet at the facility when needed for any activity benefitting the area. “

A week later, the Soualiga Social Movement met with the whole group of young men joined by the community police and government employees of the department for Social Development. “We all went “into the hood”  handing out flyers door to door encouraging residents to come to a community meeting to discuss what issues the residents of Cay Hill were experiencing. During this reach-out activity many pictures and videos were taken of the volunteers and of some of the issues we encountered while just walking through the community.  Not everything we captured on film was beautiful and positive. The group also documented some deplorable living conditions and unsanitary situations experienced throughout the area. Pictures of the group appeared in the printed media and videos showing everyone going “into the hood” were posted on Youtube as well as on Facebook.”

Prior to the community meeting, SSM members held informal talks with government officials and various foundations about the situation and what help would be available. From everyone the feedback was that a community council is needed for Cay Hill. “The call for a Community Council fits right in line with the philosophy of SSM, which is based on three keywords: awareness, inclusion and participation. A community council would deliver exactly that to the community of Cay Hill,” SSM stated.

The community meeting was attended by over 80 residents.  Residents wasted no time in bringing forward their issues such as: car wrecks on the roads, rodent infestations, running sewage in several places, hazardous traffic situations, unemployment, lack of activities, lack of a basketball field, lack of a community center, cleaning up the neighborhood, illegal buildings and last but not least: lack of a community council.

The residents of Cay Hill were unanimously in favor of establishing a community council and right there and then some volunteered to work on such a council.  The community police officer for Cay Hill, Officer Henson, volunteered to help organize a group meeting so that the council could be formed.

SSM continued talks with third parties about employing the youth of Cay Hill and setting up a neighborhood clean-up project. A former Cay Hill resident Mr. Dennis Gibbs of MDK Technologies made his company’s backhoe available for any clean-up in the Cay Hill district and was willing to employ a few young men for a short term. Today, a group of these young men are employed indirectly because of their efforts in bringing their community together.

“So today,  much applause, the community of Cay Hill is represented by a group of its own residents. The Soualiga Social Movement would like to encourage you to serve your community well, include them in your projects, allow them an opportunity to participate in the development of their own environment, and remember that our foundation is always here to lend a helping hand,” SSM concluded. “Also, to all the other persons and organizations who helped this process come to fruition such as Bernard Serrant,  Nicky Owen, community police officers Henson and Statie, Mr. R. ‘ Bakari’ Arrindell,  Byron Isebia, Louis Brown, and not forgetting the young men aka Boys on the Block of Cay Hill.”

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