PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Home Repair project designed to assist the most vulnerable in our community to live in decent homes was launched Monday June 12th. The Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA), Youth Affairs, contractors and students have all come together in a win, win, win project to benefit the community. The students will gain valuable work experience that will equip them with valuable experience to enter the labor market as a skilled worker. In anticipation of the launch, the contractors and participating students met last week Thursday for an introductory meeting before repairs on the first 12 homes commenced.
Minister Lee’s opening remarks began with a short story that helped paint a picture of the objective of the project. “When I came in as a Minister, there was a gentleman that used to come to our office on a regular basis seeking assistance, and one day he came to request some help to have his house repaired. To get an idea of what kind of repairs the gentleman was referring to, we took a trip to see his living conditions. He lived in a small room, you could see the zinc sheets from his roof pealed back, and the bathroom was deplorable. When it rained he had to put a plastic sheet over his bed so his bed wouldn’t get wet. It was heart wrenching to see elderly that contributed to building this island, living in socially substandard conditions. Certainly, thereafter I came back to the Ministry, and said look, here is clearly a person who has a social problem. We need to find a way to help him immediately.
But when you looked into it, our system didn’t allow us to help him. So in the end, according to our governmental rules there was nothing we could do to improve his living environment. But sure enough, come election time somebody fixed his roof and the guy had on a t-shirt from a particular party. So what happened? He had to sell his vote, his dignity, for a roof over his head.”
The point Minister Lee echoed was “something is fundamentally wrong, if that is what our people need to do to live with pride and dignity.” With that in mind he tasked Aida Holaman, Head of CDFHA with figuring out how to solve this problem. Minister Lee stated that he couldn’t be more proud of how has developed and whoe heartedly thanked everyone for their contribution to our nation.
“Aida has brought her charm, her charisma, her commitment to the community, and her dedicated team to do this project. And in a sense, the fact that I had so little involvement, is really just a testament to everyone’s commitment to the project. I had nothing to do with choosing the contractors or nothing to do with selecting the people who are going to receive the help that they so desperately need. These are simply the people in our community who based on an assessment by the the Ministry of VSA has been identified as eligible for the assistance, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your political allegiance is, but simply these are the people that need the most help in our community.”