USM shared prelimary results COVIDCAS research

July 19, 2022

One year after its official launch, the University of St. Martin (USM) COVIDCAS research project team delivered a midterm report to the general public on Thursday, 23 June.
Present were representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (MECYS), Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA), Collective Preventive Services (CPS), grassroots organization union WIFOL, and faculty members and students of the local.

Research assistants who were trained in qualitative interview techniques and transcribing and translation received their certificates of accomplishments at the public event.

COVIDCAS is the consortium comprised of USM, University of Aruba, University of Curaçao, Utrecht University and the Curaçao Biomedical and Health Research Institute (CBHRI), which spearheading the research project “Upholding Human Rights during a Pandemic: The Impact of COVID-19 Measures on Vulnerable Families in Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten”. It is a two-year project aimed at supporting best practices and human rights-based strategies for small islands dealing with public crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. COVIDCAS is financed by the Dutch health and medical research council ZonMw.

The evening, which was streamed live via Facebook began with Prof. dr. Antonio Carmona Báez and Research Coordinator drs. Raymond Jessurun offering the public a presentation on the importance of this and other research initiatives hosted by university in country Sint Maarten. The achievements made throughout the last year were enumerated and the experiences of the 4 research assistants were shared with the general public. In total, 28 individuals were interviewed at length; among these were (working) women, low-income heads of households, migrants and the elderly. General impressions on the pandemic experience among these sectors were shared, highlighting concerns such as access to food and financial aid, employment, schooling and problems of gender violence.

Jessurun expressed his gratitude to all those who contributed, stating that “without the participation of the community this milestone could not have been achieved.” The team of research assistant interviewers included Patricia Arrindell, Ashayna Nisbeth, Lindon Williams, and Fabi Vliervoet. Assistant Division Head for Business and Hospitality Karen Hana and USM Education student Chantal Gumbs received certificates of completion for training in qualitative interviews.

Ms. Nisbeth, who holds a Master of Arts in Sociology, expressed great satisfaction with the opportunity to do field work in Sint Maarten. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to conduct the interviews here on the island; it is what we need and I am glad that USM is promoting research. Interviewing people on intimate topics like household income, living conditions and access to food is not always easy, and our population is not yet used to being interviewed for the sake of research and data collection. I look forward to future research opportunities.”

Among the achievements during the first year of the project were the completion of exploratory activities which consisted of desktop research and focus group discussions with representatives of government entities (VSA-CPS-Labor), non-governmental organizations (Red Cross, Community Centers of Dutch Quarter, St Peters, Cole Bay, Cay Bay, the COME Center) and of grass root organizations (Chamber of Labor Unions and Senior Citizen organizations). The research findings were published by University of Utrecht graduate Sophie Mazur in an Individual Report and an Action Plan 2021 which were presented to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, as chair of the EOC, in September 2021.

Through COVIDCAS, USM has trained 6 local research assistants in interviewing transcribing and translating conversations with interviewees. Dr. Carmona handed the participants their certificates for their completion of the capacity building workshops. USM thanks SZV for their collaboration in providing the university with a pool of potential interviewees


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