Red Cross re-affirms commitment to rebuilding St. Maarten; delivers 500,000th meal to hurricane-affected children

Six months after Hurricane Irma, the St. Maarten branch of the Netherlands Red Cross today re-affirmed its commitment to helping to rebuild St. Maarten by delivering its 500,000th meal to hurricane-affected children.

redcross delivers 500,000th meal to hurricane-affected children sint maarten

“This is but one example of our long-term commitment to the people of St. Maarten,” said Michele Rezza Sanchez, head of mission for the Netherlands Red Cross. “Not only have we provided half a million meals through our school feeding program, we recently extended the program by three months, and are now expanding it to include 177 students at six secondary schools.”


Since October 2017, Red Cross staff have provided nutritional breakfasts and hot lunches to an overall average of 3,350 students in 18 primary schools.


As part of its response to Hurricane Irma, and in collaboration with the government and communities themselves, the Red Cross has also distributed more than 11,000 food vouchers to families in need. A Waste to Work project was recently launched which will engage local entrepreneurs in upcycling hurricane and humanitarian-generated waste to create sellable products. And 2,000 households will also receive materials and technical expertise to support them in the rebuilding of their damaged homes.


With hurricane season just months away, the Red Cross is looking towards the future, and is working with communities to ensure they are well prepared for emergencies. “We are now in the process of creating community-based disaster response teams in the nine neighbourhoods where we are working,” said Nadjesca Gumbs, branch manager of the Red Cross St. Maarten. “These teams will be made up of people who live in these communities. After receiving training, they will be the first to respond when there is an emergency.”

The programs are being financed by donations raised through a public fundraising campaign that was launched in the Netherlands immediately following Hurricane Irma. The $21 million dollars that was donated helped kick start Red Cross emergency operations in September 2017, and now supports longer term recovery. This also includes the funds raised from the Aruban community by the Red Cross Aruba. Included in that is funding from the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations which is supporting the extension of the school feeding program and the Waste to Work project.