SXM NGO’s worried about future

sunfed_logoST. MAARTEN–Some 240 full-time employees and 225 part-timers working for various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are at stake as funding for organisations steadily dries up, much to the concern of the NGO community that is under the umbrella of St. Martin United Non-Governmental Organisation Federation SUNFed.

SUNFed was particularly concerned that St. Maarten Development Fund (SDF), the foundation government put in place to manage and distribute funds to NGOs in the place of the Antillean Co-Financing Organisation AMFO, is still not able to accept programmes or project proposals or disburse funds for social services. AMFO closed its doors for good at the year end.

SDF Head Richelda Emmanuel told The Daily Herald that the fund is still awaiting funds from government and is busy with its own operational structure. She said all the relevant documents have been submitted to government indicating how much money the agency, which is also an NGO, needs to carry out its role as a funding agency. Funds are expected from the 2013 country budget that is not yet finalised by government and parliament. Keith Franca is SDF’s interim director.

The SUNfed body has written to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams pointing out its worry about the NGOs being in jeopardy of closing, an occurrence that would affect more than 4,900 people, mostly youngsters, directly involved in social and other projects and programmes. The letter, submitted to government on November 21, was accompanied by a petition signed by a number of affected NGOs.

The NGOs are calling on the government “to finalize and, secure and guarantee the funding of programmes as agreed upon on behalf of social development in St. Maarten.”

They see the matter as one of “urgency,” because any closure would “negatively affect” single parent homes, headed by mostly women, assistance for parents with their children’s needs, safety and security for youngsters, and homework tutorship. The number of children repeating classes and school dropouts are projected to increase with any closure. “Gains made over the years will be lost.”

“As a community we cannot turn a blind eye to the most vulnerable people in our society, neither the important role nor services provided by NGOs on St. Maarten. Failure to maintain the existing services can only add to the situations outlined in the Integrated Neighbourhood Development Program (INDP),” according to the letter signed by SUNFed President Alberto Bute.

SUNFed and its members “have been advocating the important role of NGOs … Unfortunately, it appears as if, the work of NGOs has been undervalued and at stake are the strides made over the past years.


Source: The Daily Herald

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  1. This would be a pity. I’m familiar with the amazing work being done by Safe Haven Foundation…what a loss it would be if these NGOs are no longer able to do the work they do so well.