Foresee Foundation Secures Funding for Third Season of “Soualichi Stories; Keeping Oral History Alive”

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Parts of the season three team of "Soualichi Stories; Keeping Oral History Alive." In photo from left are Claudette Forsythe-Labega, Ralph Cantave, Jose Sommers, Kevin ‘Suppa’ Petrona and Julia Grigg during one of their planning sessions. 

 

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Foresee Foundation has secured funding for the highly-anticipated third season of “Soualichi Stories; Keeping Oral History Alive.” The Fonds voorCultuurParticipatie – Memorial Year Slavery Fund’s generous support has made this possible. Notably, the organization is among the first to receive this grant in the islands, and it is expected to significantly boost the project’s success.

“Soualichi Stories” is an initiative by Foresee Foundation to preserve and pass on knowledge, insight, and history through the unique lens of Caribbean culture and heritage. These captivating stories weave together the rich tapestry of the Caribbean Sea, connecting generations and reaching far beyond the islands to Europe and the rest of the world.

With the funding support, the project will expand its reach to target groups, including school children/youth and seniors, fostering awareness, reflection, and appreciation for the region’s heritage and global linkages.

Foresee Foundation, though not primarily a cultural entity, has successfully undertaken several culturally related projects, always partnering with local organizations. Understanding the significance of collaboration in a small community like ours, the foundation joins forces to create meaningful and impactful projects that serve the greater good.

This grant application to the Memorial Year Slavery History Fund reflects our deep commitment to connecting with our ancestors and shared Caribbean history. The project’s goal is to preserve the intangible cultural heritage of St. Maarten, and it has already resulted in 20 compelling stories to be compiled into an interactive educational e-book. The upcoming season aims to expand the distribution of these materials to target groups, including school children, youth, and seniors.

Kevin ‘Suppa’ Petrona, the Coordinator of “Soualichi Stories,” expressed his passion for the project, having fallen in love with the concept when he was first approached in 2020. “Being part of this project was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Petrona said. The main goal of “Soualichi Stories” is to bridge the gap between older and newer generations by reviving the art of storytelling and poetry. Embracing technology, the project successfully reaches a wider audience, combining tradition with modernity.

The response to the stories has been overwhelming, with listeners sharing their own anecdotes and how the tales brought back cherished memories. Stories like “One Tete Lokay,” “Legends of the Walking People,” “Salt Pond Goddess,” “Why Crab Get Crack on its Back,” and the several “Anansi stories” have provided valuable history lessons and life lessons to the audience. Poems like “Ah Say Come,” brought back so many forgotten memories and reasons why we still say and do some of the things to this day.

To ensure broader accessibility, the first two seasons of “Soualichi Stories” will soon be available in a free e-book format. This e-book will encompass both audio and visual versions of the stories, featuring animations, drawings/paintings, or live-action representations. Additionally, the e-book will include lesson plans, interactive activities, and games, allowing readers to delve deeper into the captivating narratives. The first edition of the e-book is expected to be launched shortly.  

Jose Sommers, the Director of Foresee Foundation, shared, “When we started with the idea of ‘Soualichi Stories’ back in 2020, we knew we had to commit to this important project that chronicles our histories.” The series was conceived to bridge the generational gap by reigniting the art of storytelling and poetry, which has somewhat waned due to the rise of technology and modern distractions. By merging traditional storytelling with technology, “Soualichi Stories” effectively reaches a wider audience while keeping the essence of our heritage alive. The feedback from the audience has been overwhelmingly positive. As the stories found their way onto the foundation’s website, we received heart-warming responses from individuals who shared their own stories or how these tales rekindled cherished memories, connecting them to our history.

The name “Soualichi” beautifully captures the essence of this project – a fusion of “Soualiga – Land of Salt” and “Oualichi – Land of Brave and Beautiful Women.” Thus, “Soualichi Stories” represent a treasure trove of salty, rich, courageous, and beautiful tales passed down through generations via oral history and tradition.

Oral history allows people to share their stories authentically, using their own words and voices to recount past events and the rationale behind their narratives. This age-old practice has preserved historical memory for civilizations worldwide, and “Soualichi Stories” proudly continues this tradition.

We are excited to announce that the e-book launch is scheduled to coincide with the start of the new school year. Our dedicated team has meticulously selected stories that forge connections between generations while preserving St. Maarten’s invaluable heritage and history.

Foresee Foundation extends its heartfelt gratitude to the Fonds voorCultuurParticipatie – Memorial Year Slavery Fund for their invaluable support in bringing “Soualichi Stories; Keeping Oral History Alive” to life. This funding allows us to continue our mission of preserving and sharing the vibrant cultural tapestry of the Caribbean. Foresee Foundation would also like to thank the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and UNESCO SXM for funding the first and second seasons respectively. 

For more information about Foresee Foundation and “Soualichi Stories; Keeping Oral History Alive,” please visit https://www.foreseefoundation.com/project/soualichi-stories/or contact foreseefoundation@gmail.com.Foresee Foundation is a St. Maarten-based organization dedicated to supporting educational institutions and community organizations across various sectors, including culture. Through impactful projects and collaborations with local entities, the Foundation strives to make a positive difference in the community.