Cay Hill, Sint Maarten – When hurricane Irma made landfall on the island on September 6th in 2017, the devastation was not only limited to the island’s infrastructure, but rather, the category five storm ravaged almost everything in its path.
As a result, some of the island’s statues namely, Lokay at the Roundabout in Cay Hill, the Peridot Foundation Domestic Violence Statue located at the Roundabout on the Bush Road and the Salt Pickers Statue on the Walter A. Nisbeth Rd were damaged during the hurricane.
With the assistance of Foundation Community Aid Sentry Hill in collaboration with Mag Tech BV, the TelEm Group and First Response, those statues include Lokay, have been restored. The symbols, which were repaired by Mike Mihero to the tune of ten thousand dollars, have been returned to their respective locations.
This was evident during a restoration ceremony held on Thursday afternoon in the vicinity of the Cay Hill Roundabout, the home of Lokay. Following the passage of the hurricane in 2017, the Lokay statue disappeared from its pedestal; however, she has been reinstated standing tall on its base at the Cay Hill Roundabout.
On hand for the restoration ceremony Thursday afternoon were among other invited persons in the community, the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, drs. Rudolphe Samuel, the initiator of the statue, former Commissioner in the then Island Council of Sint Maarten, Louie Laviest and Head of the Culture Department, Clara Reyes.
The president and founder of the Peridot Foundation, drs. Gracita Arrindell and representatives of the Foundation Community Aid Sentry Hill under the leadership of Henry Brookson were also present for the occasion.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of ECYS, drs. Samuel highlighted the significance of the symbols for the island and its inhabitants. “Our statues, portraying a significant role in displaying not only our country’s heritage, but also the strength, defiance, and courage of our women especially during the enslavement period,” he told invitees to the event.
Head of the Department of Culture, Clara Reyes encouraged the practicing of daily culture. Against this backdrop she applauded the three organizations for restoring the statues, including Lokay. “While we applaud this group of individuals and organizations that have come together to invest in Sint Maarten’s cultural heritage by bringing repair to these three statues, there are significantly more areas that can use continued support, continued private partnership with government,” Ms. Reyes said. She also acknowledged the presence of the initiator of the statue, Louie Laviest as well.
Drs. Gracita Arrindell made reference to role of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport in preserving our history. “That is a very important ministry to continue passing the baton in terms of preserving our heritage and Miss Lokay is the symbol that unites us all. It has been an encouragement also for our Peridot Foundation,” the founder and president of the Peridot Foundation said.
“The Foundation Community Aid Sentry Hill (CASH) is very proud to have contributed to the restoration of these three landmarks,” president of the organization, Henry Brookson said, adding that for too long these pillars of Sint Maarten’s cultural heritage have been in disarray, whilst referencing the three pelican statues at the airport roundabout.
Against this backdrop he stated that within their board, they consider it a good idea and their civic duty to lend a helping hand to government that was, and still is lacking the funds to carry out more needed tasks.