SABA — The Public Entity Saba has a new head of the Community Development Department, Martin Richardson. Born and raised in Aruba, Richardson (60) assumed his position per December 1, 2019.
Richardson is new to the island and had not been to Saba before taking on this new challenge on. He came to Saba from Bonaire where he worked as Director of Forma, a non-governmental organization that carries out projects for the Public Entity Bonaire in the social domain, including coaching towards work and poverty eradication. Before that, Richardson, whose father hailed from St. Maarten and whose mother was of Grenada descent, worked as Director of the middle vocational level MBO school EPI in Aruba.
Richardson is a biology and science teacher by profession, and he worked as such in the Netherlands and in Bonaire. In the Netherlands, he developed and execute many projects in the social domain. He has also worked in Turkey where he executed several cultural projects as part of a past cooperation program between the Netherlands and Turkey. Richardson came to Saba with his wife from Kyrgyzstan and their two children.
“Saba is a very beautiful island. There is still a lot of local culture. It is important to cherish and preserve this. I have seen on too many other islands where the local culture was lost,” said Richardson.
Continuing the efforts of the Public Entity Saba to combat poverty and domestic violence are two of the focal points for Richardson. The Youth Policy Plan is an important document that will be carried out. “We have to prepare the youngsters for their leadership role in the community and politics. They have to acquire the know-how and experience to take on this role at a later stage in their lives.”
Richardson said he would work on the further developing of the Community Development Department. The Public Entity Saba now has a bigger responsibility in the social domain, and this needs to reflect in the department. “There is an active role for the Community Development Department in the social domain.”
Richardson said he would like to have a close working relation with all stakeholders. “Social development and, for example, education go hand in hand. It is important to work together and to support each other.”
Commissioner of Social Affairs Rolando Wilson said he was content to have Richardson as the new head of the department. “I am looking forward to working with him as we continue to invest in the social domain, which is important for the Saba people.”
Richardson took over the position from Krijn Pons who left Saba in June last year. Pons was on Saba last week to assist with the transfer process. Pons worked for the Public Entity Saba for 3.5 years. He started as coordinator children’s rights and domestic violence in 2016, but after a few months, his tasks were expanded and he started the process of setting up the Community Development Department.
“It was clear that a broader structure had to be put in place in order for the Public Entity Saba to assume more tasks in the social domain. We secured the necessary funding from the Dutch Government, recruited personnel and set up a new department,” said Pons. The Community Development Department became operational early 2018.