Opinion: Hemmie van Xanten reflects on the recent mission of the Island Council to The Netherlands

Dear Editor,

It is good to be back on Saba after two weeks of meeting your family and friends, official meetings, unofficial meetings, and the VNG congress.

It is always great to see the relationship that has been established over the years with politicians who have become your counterpart. Entering the first chamber and being welcomed by Mr. Paul Rosemuller with a hug and great “brasso “ means a lot. The same for being welcomed by the President of the Council of States, Mr. Thom de Graaf, a feeling of knowing each other for a certain amount of time. And Don’t forget the wonderful meeting with Mrs. Jorien Wuite, who has the Caribbean at her heart and understands exactly what is needed for us to progress.

Entering the meeting with the second chamber members felt like meeting up again after a while. Ms. Kuijken, de Berg, and Paul were no strangers to our delegation which was reflected in the meeting we had.

The reason why I write this is to demonstrate the importance of having regular contact with those persons who can advise, help and support us through the jungle of civil servants in The Hague. Believe me, it is a jungle that needs to be addressed by us through their respective leaders. Over the last three years that I have been involved as Island Council Member, I have been able to expand my Dutch contacts and been able to address the Saba issues in various situations.

Of course, certain persons will question what we brought home. Well, let me explain, that it is not a trip to bring home the beef, but more like how we will share and cook the beef. It is all about our connections, our shared concerns, and our personal approach to getting any result. The political and administrative situation is a challenge for all of us to break and gain.

So, after two weeks, I can conclude that this trip was absolutely worthwhile, especially based on the political meetings we had with the Staten Generaal, First and Second Chamber, and individual politicians. It feels like paving the road for further success. Besides all this, we were able to meet with a number of different stakeholders like ACM, Social work place Den Bosch, Bazalt Wonen etc. All this must be seen as part of professional development which is a common understanding within nowadays progression.

How can we measure this success? Only time will tell. It has been a wonderful two weeks where I was proud to represent the Island of Saba and where we all brought our concerns across. Time will tell if we gained further progress and development. But believe me, if we all would have stayed on Saba, our voice would not have been heart. Our presence has certainly contributed to a general understanding where mutual respect and professional attitude has been observed.

Thanks to everyone who made this important trip possible, especially our registrar Akilah Levenstone.

Hemmie van Xanten

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