Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap December 3rd, 2017

If you heard something say something. The Police is asking the public’s help in solving this weekend’s outrage

At 10am this morning most of Aruba’s schools will observe a moment of silence to honor the memory and acknowledge the tragedy that met up with two babies, 5 and 3; the toddler and the baby became the subject of social media outrage last week, one by virtue of his cruel unimaginable death and the other by virtue of his “disappearance.”

I remember nine years ago, the island was rocked by a similar outrage over the sad fate of four siblings, suffering intolerable torture at the hands of dysfunctional, drug-addicted guardians. A fast-acting teacher who came to the kids’ rescue at the time, received all the criticism and blame for circumventing the holy system, and taking matters into her own hands on behalf of the kids. That same school teacher explained to me yesterday that nothing has changed in nine years, everyone knows, everyone heard about the on-going long term abuse, but no one would tackle the issue head on because we’re all related, we don’t like to shame acquaintances, it is a small community, after all. And while every few years the social department head moves on, there is no real investment in social workers, the soldiers in the field, to keep them motivated and alert, at the top of their game, so that they recognize evil, when they look it in the face.

Another friend, a teacher, told me just recently that when his school management wanted to press statutory rape charges against a so called 21 year old “boyfriend,” who impregnated a 14 year old, going to his school, all social and pedagogic instances involved begged them to hold off, and find “more amicable solutions” to the “problem.” They were so pleased that the perpetrator stuck around to “support” the minor; they didn’t want to throw that shameless predator in jail.

That same school teacher explained to me that his 2,000 strong, body of students, is guides by a SINGLE social worker. She visits a different school every day, five schools a week, and if delayed, or at a professional training session, she skips a school, and eventually gets around to visit, time permitting, the following week. Imagine how much falls between the cracks there.

Good news, the MinPres published an appropriate response, saying all the right things, there was an emergency government meeting with most of the ministers in their Saturday casuals, to debate what should be done.

I hope the trinity gets together: MinJust, MinEdu and MinSocial, to discuss why One Happy Island is plagued by frequent unaddressed cases of child neglect and abuse.

Incidentally, and I find the timing strange, an employee of the department of social affairs published a ridiculous press release Friday, stating that parents are free to “educate” their children, as they wish, there is no law to regulate their obligations, she said. But the discussion, she added, focuses on the definition of mistreatment, such as beating, then when, and how much, is always open to “debate.” She also stated, that how to educate a child, what language to use, is exactly the difficulty faced by many parents. DUH.

Parenting ain’t easy, and is NOT for everyone, especially not for those drugging their way through life, battling with addiction, mental and anger issues, the likes surrounding the two invisible children, a dysfunctional grandmother, her equally scary partner, an underage, drugged mother, her loony-bin partner, the violent brother, indifferent neighbors, forgetful teachers, non-existing social workers, and an under-staffed system.

Again, the timing and the permissive content of the release are suspicious, I think the department is covering its royal ass. They know, and they are now arguing, that the level of corporal punishment is up for discussion, up to the so-called parent discretion. I call BS on that.

Art Fair Aruba 2017

I am a fan of the Art Fair. And I clearly see its long term return on investment. Every time I have visitors, we drive down to St Nicholas, admire the artwork, walk the streets, take selfies, ooh and aah, then have lunch at O’Neil Caribbean Kitchen, Kamini’s Kitchen or Groete Berg Snack, AND stop at Ritz Savaneta for soft-served ice cream.

We contribute to the economy, visitors enjoy an authentic experience, the artwork justifies its existence, and the derelict walls become a tourist attraction instead of an eye-sore. Mission accomplished.

HOWEVER, I am also a fan of good governance. There must be a way of creating the legal and organizational infrastructure, so we can continue to host the annual event.

Our art fair is organized by a foundation, a private sector nonprofit, see story below. The man at the helm, Tito Bolivar, wants to do it, it’s his thing, he says, and by now, with two years of experience, he is definitely qualified to do it.

Funding, what about funding?

Bolivar was funded by being on staff at the Bureau of Innovations, on the payroll as one of the former MinPres coordinators.

I imagine he is now unemployed, thanks to the change in government, which brought the careers of all contracted coordinators to conclusion.

As for the Art Fair expenses, music, displays, lights, supplies, there is a long list: Over the past two years tourism money paid for the promotion. In 2016, under the former MinCulture/MinTour the funds became available on a quasi timely basis. Then as he abandoned the office, his job was inherited by an interim MinTour, who delayed the allocation of funds till just recently. The show got on the road late.

Last year’s Art Fair was earlier in the year and very well attended.

This year’s edition resulted in a later date and was not as popular as the first; it was also more commercial with many artisans and artists operating pop-up galleries in the heart of St. Nicholas, and selling jewelry, paintings, gifts for cash, no receipts, no cash registers in view.

I still enjoyed it very much: The murals by international talents, the nicely displayed artwork, the exposition in the igloo dome, and the pop up Prins Bernhard Culture Funds display, I want to see it go on, and I am looking forward to an earlier 2018 edition, but in the name of good governance, the foundation has to come up with a sustainable funding plan.

And tourism paying for it all, is not a good solution.

Partial funding? Yes, paying for the murals, and the international artists, but the street art gallery is a local promotion designed to attract locals, I never even saw one tourist in the street, so why should tourism carry the cost?

I was also charged Awg 15 at the entrance and never received a ticket or a bracelet.

Bottom line, the art fair should develop a sustainable funding plan without holding its hand out to the government. More sponsors is the answer. Thank you Lincoln, nice car.

“Aruba Art Fair has the vision to make Aruba culturally and economically richer; a vibrant, diverse, inclusive paradise where affluent people want to visit in order to look for culture, heritage and fine arts. We recognize the positive effect and the creative activity that it has on Affluent Tourism, therefore we want to provide enjoyment, enlivening spaces and enriching stories. Culture makes places distinctive, engendering pride in the local community. It also makes a practical contribution in terms of sustainability, encouraging learning and inspiring people to adopt creative and active lifestyles. Through culture communities we are able to engage young people in constructive activity and attract people and businesses essential for a prosperous local economy.”

Flora’s Father Hugo, makes people happy

This is a great story. It’s about Flora’s father, she is the Zorgmanager, at Ixoria, Marie StellaStichting Algemene Bejaardenzorg Aruba. Her seat in heaven is guaranteed, she is an exceptional, caring, and loving person.

Anyway, Flora told me this touching story, and asked me to publicize 

Dutch-born Hugo Groeneveld celebrated his 90th birthday with family members and friends, fundraising for what he considered a great idea.

He was going to give the folks at Marie Stella a party, with some alcoholic beverages and snacks, and he was going to share these happy moments with them via skype, from his home in the Netherlands

Hugo was a school teacher in Aruba from 1957 to 1969, teaching at Graaf von Zinzendorf School, at John Wesley College, and Mon Plaisir College. He had a great time on the island and fondly remembers his years here. He came back many times since, to visit his daughter Annette, married in Aruba and two years ago he also enjoyed Annette’s 25th wedding anniversary party here.

Hugo’s oldest daughter, Flora de Bie-Groeneveld, also lives on Aruba since 1990 with her family. She is the fantastic care manager at the government institution for the elderly.

Of course, Hugo visited Maris Stella over the years and met some of his former colleagues, who by nature of living in the government institute were missing out on some pleasant extras available on the outside.

And since he thought he had everything, he used his 90th birthday to fundraise towards an improvised party for his friends.

His efforts were successful. At his birthday celebration Sunday September 3rd, in Hertogenbosch, The Netherland, at his son Maurice’s house, Hugo collected a total of Afl. 1500.

Then his daughter Flora used the money wisely, buying koekoei, ponchi crema and Guinness, local beer, juices and soft drinks, treating the elderly to goodies twice, on November 4th and November 26th.

While Hugo was recently diagnosed with some serious health challenges, and his eye sight is failing, he still managed to see on his computer the pictures of the elderly at Maris Stella enjoying the moment.

Kids Michiel, Flora, Annette and Maurice, life-partner Dimphna, grandchildren Philllip, Floris, Maarten and Diederik, great-grandchild Mina Flora, are proud of their patriarch, born in Rotterdam on August 24th 1927, who was always an incredibly strong man, living healthily, a non smoker, and a moderate drinker. Widowed early in life when his wife Johanna Wilhelmina Meyer passed away, he enjoyed the past decades with an excellent second partner, but recently he has been given just several more months to live. Nevertheless he is passionately rooted in life, and enjoys making others happy.

Hugs and best wishes to you Hugo, from Aruba!

Chef Matt Returns to the Hilton Aruba Caribbean

I met Chef Matt when he first came to Aruba in 1993. He was invited by developer Walter Wiggins to spend some time at the Red Parrot kitchen, in the Divi Divi Hotel.

Wiggins met Matt in upstate NY, where the young chef worked at the “L’Auberge du Cochon Rouge,” a famed French restaurant, housed in a unique country setting.

So you see, we go back a long time and for as far as I can remember, Matt is always enthusiastic, passionate and bursting with ideas and flavors. He has a great gift for communication, talking intensely, food, kids, grandkids, travel, the ocean, snorkeling… he is no doubt the best swimmer among chefs, and best chef among swimmers. He just loves everything, and everybody.

He wrote a book in 2005 with tips to travelers to Aruba, produced a TV cooking series, cooked for the James Beard House in New York City, and for numerous members of the Dutch royal house.

Following his stellar career at the Divi in the 90s, he earned executive chef assignments at the island’s biggest properties, including the Wyndham, the Radisson and Westin hotels.

Most notably, under his direction, in collaboration with an equally creative GM, he helped create the Sunset Grille, which became a AAA Four Diamond restaurant, one of only two restaurants in Aruba, at the time, to achieve that status, for ten consecutive years.

I cannot think of a more entertaining, or a more creative chef, and I have met many.

So what’s the news you’re asking?

Having served as corporate regional chef with Divi Resorts chef Matt is returning to the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino and is starting tomorrow, December 1st, 2017, to inspire and motivate the resort’s culinary brigade to greater greatness!

At the Hilton he says, he will dedicate his talent to develop a fresh concept for Gilligan’s Beach Bar & Grill, the resort’s seaside restaurant and continue to nurture and expand the steakhouse experience at the Sunset Grille, enhancing the already very welcoming environment with an over-the-top delicious culinaria, infusion innovative, and producing cutting edge food.

How does a Roast garlic pork,  broccoli rabe sandwich with ,parsley caper gremolata move you? Or a Lobster and crab grilled cheese sandwich with island slaw and chipotle aioli? Fried oysters with dill tartar sauce and mango pineapple dips? New Orleans Fried Oyster Po Boy, tarragon tartar sauce?

I detect Modern Caribbean, Latin and classic French influences. Nice.

An Open Letter to MinInfra/MinEnvi, we need a hero!

Dear MinInfra & MinEnvi,

You got yourself two super important portfolios, and I would like to talk to you about them, like personally, eye to eye.

I know, I know, you don’t wanna hear from me, but please hear me out: I want you to funnel all the drive and determination you showed in 2016, when you insisted on driving a square peg into a round hole, to usher in the all inclusive law; I want you to take all this energy and use it to help resolve our garbage crisis.

We are in a global garbage crisis, which is magnified by the fact that we are an island.

Back to your drive and determination. You fought the hotels formidably.

I don’t know why, and I am not sure it was worth it, but I wish you’d take that POWER of yours and harness it in favor of the environment, solving our landfill issues, fighting littering and dumping, launching our marine park, and protecting wetland. You know what to do. And you also know how to do it.

I visited Ecotech this week and I walked away convinced they are the right partner for you, as you tackle waste management, first.

They are managing it already, turning household and commercial waste into alternative energy on one hand AND into perfectly safe compressed  bales ready to fill abandoned mines that scar our landscape. This week a pit in Moko was filled with over 100 bales, that’s 100 tons of garbage that was put to good use, restoring the landscape.

So I need you to collaborate with Ecotech because they are practically there.  Support them, and they will make you a hero.

Their Barcadera WSP, waste separation or sorting plant, is working.

They receive disgusting gook, and make it manageable.

First removing refrigerators and engine heads, yes, people dump those into the trash, then sifting the mess by size, separating it in a rotating tunnel, removing metal with magnets, sand with wind, glass and cardboard. What’s left is shredded, compressed, and baled, ready to fill a hole in the landscape, or compacted further and turned into nuggets that may fuel a gas producing furnace.

I see you are making the rounds, visiting Serlimar. All you have to do is help broker an agreement between Serlimar & Ecotech, so that Serlimar deliver its waste to be treated, INSTEAD OF PUSHING IT INTO THE OCEAN, OR COVERING IT WITH GRAVEL, SCARING OUR LANDSCAPE EVEN FURTHER.

Dear Minister: Without an agreement with Serlimar to treat ALL NON TOXIC, CARBON BASED garbage, Ecotech cannot continue to invest in the gasification plant. They require 100,000 tons of waste per year, they collect half. So they need Serlimar’s reasonable collaboration.

But even if there is no gasification, burying all of Aruba non-toxic waste is a good, viable and cheaper solution than to continue the current landfill.

You said you need 100 days to present us with a solution, ECOTECH is 90% there, and a viable partner.

I hope you will rise above previous disagreements, true they did not support your quest for all inclusive legislation, but if you now partner with them, you will become a national hero, the man who tackled the waste. We need a hero!

AHATA AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE

Remember? The awards were taken back by AHATA, who vowed to do a better job on the presentation. They did. It was a well-planned evening last night, with an elegant Champagne reception, with dinner in a tastefully decorated Hyatt Regency ballroom, good food, free flowing wines, beautiful people, capable emcees, and a fast and furious program. Best of all, N’Fuzion, featuring the too-handsome Ofo Escudero, with salsa, meringue, bachata and son montuno, for dessert.

De Palm Tours was a major sponsor of the festivities, giving back to the hospitality community and CMB donated the funds for two scholarships, with a commitment for next year as well.

The foreplay leading to the event was orchestrated by legendary Vanessa, from AHATA, with cute video clips published on social media introducing the 36 nominees in five categories. That was well done too.

Our new MinTour graced the event with his presence. He said he couldn’t stay away, he had to attend. Of course. I gave him my card and he apologized his aren’t done yet. Apparently he inherited the office of Richard Arends, who left it in good shape and was kind to the incoming team, in glaring contrast to MOST other outgoing ministers who shredded all paperwork and emptied their spaces, carting away computers, chairs and printers. Literally cleaning up. MinTour brought his home printer to work, during that first week of transition. We agreed we will continue to talk and I told him about my 100 honeymoon days with him; he promised to make me happy for the next four years.

Back to the party. We had a wonderful time dancing and socializing.

#nowomen = There were no women finalists, five men won, in five categories, Employee of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, Manager of the Year, Young Tourism Professional of the Year, and LifeTime Achievement Award – #nowomen, though they represented 31% of the nominees. They did not shine?! Incidentally, the judges’ panel of three, included one woman, 33%.

#lowoncontent #rushed = We would have loved to see the full version of the nomination video of the five winners so that we understand why they won, and what makes them a role model. Please show some video next year, and add the nominee/winner’s resort and position to slides.

Otherwise, don’t change a thing, Good job