SXM Local News: French and Dutch Coming Together, #SXMSTRONG Campaign, Nature Returns

For an island that’s a mere 34 square miles, there sure is a lot going on in Sint Maarten. Not the least of which involves the fact that the small island is made up of two separate countries. It’s a unique situation to say the least, but one that, once you’ve visited and taken in the dynamic scene, is a special part of this place that draws people back time and time again.

Of course, when a natural disaster hit the island it created an even more challenging situation as two countries, France and the Netherlands, work tirelessly to send aid and help #RebuildSXM in the wake of Hurricane Irma. To that end, it’s good to hear the countries are working together as they continue to forge through the reconstruction efforts.

French and Dutch sides both met in Paris today to convene on the topic of cooperation in the reconstruction of Sint Maarten. Philippe Gustin, the French Delegate, and Hans Leijtens, the Dutch Delegate, discussed the state of affairs and how they can work better together.

“Our governments are committed to a better future for all of the Saint Martin Island. I think we can work together on this basis.” Hans Leijtens

The two delegates stressed the importance of working together, particularly on common infrastructure projects, such as airport projects or a waste disposal center. They also acknowledged that they’re both committed to coordinating on future EU funding that has been earmarked for the island.


The government of Sint Maarten is formally rolling out their #SXMSTRONG campaign, to make St. Martin’s Day a memorable one for the entire island. The idea is to bring the community together under the campaign with a variety of local events and gatherings. The events will help to build momentum leading up to the St. Martin’s Day celebrations.

Here’s a short video of Sharon Cangieter, Department of Education Innovations, talking about the campaign and some of the planned events:

Reforestation Project

Hurricane Irma stripped the landscape of Sint Maarten bare, leaving no leaves or greenery behind. So when the talk of reforestation comes up, the first natural thought is about bouncing back from Irma. Enter the Environmental Protection in the Caribbean Foundation (EPIC).

EPIC had started a reforestation project on Sint Maarten weeks before Hurricane Irma hit, not realizing what was to come. The goal of the project was to plant native trees at different locations around the island, including 12 red mangrove seedlings at Little Key. As luck would have it, 5 of the 12 seedlings survived the storm.

Development around the beach areas on Sint Maarten are responsible for destroying a large number of mangroves, including an estimated 85 percent of the mangroves in the Simpson Bay lagoon. The EPIC team plans to plant hundreds more of the mangroves in hopes of revitalizing nature by increasing the mangrove population around the island.

Please help rebuild SXM and give today. Click here to visit the SXM Strong donate page. Thank you!

Here’s a short video that shows the surviving mangroves and talks a little about the project:

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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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