Check out our latest Covid-19 vaccination interview with no one less than 𝐋𝐞𝐬 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧!

Known by most as the enthusiastic sports and health teacher and mentor!

𝐂𝐚𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐮𝐬 𝐚 𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟? My name is Les Brown. I was born in Curacao and at the passing of one of my parents, I came to St. Maarten. I grew up here, did my secondary education in Curacao and then I went to Holland where I studied sports. After teaching in Holland for 28 years, hurricane Louis hit and I said, Hey, It's best that I go home and see what I can do on that side.

I came home I became the director of sports here in Sint Maarten regulating the different programs in the school. I also started my own foundation: Lab sports Academy. Via that program, I’m working together with the Mental Health Foundation, and different schools. We even went all the way to China for the Special Olympics and brought home two medals.

Even though I’m on pension, but I'm still busy with the afterschool programs, which is another love of mine. I find that the kids need to move a little better. Be a little more coordinated, balanced, and do things that will improve their development. They’re sitting too much, they can skip even rope. And they say that they have a concentration deficit or ADHD, but then I think: ‘’No, they just have energy, and they don’t know what to do with it, and we need to put a little more attention on that’’.

I love to continue doing things for the community. What I'm having now, is the water aerobics in the sea. Lots of our older folks, go to Santo Domingo for operations and need revalidation when they come back. So we started to do different, stretching and intensive exercises, focus on the limbs, the injuries, the mobility. It's not only for mobility, but especially now with COVID, it's also for their breathing capacity, and it does wonders.

𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃-𝟏𝟗 𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮? I have these groups of so many kids and people that I’m in contact with daily. And because of the pandemic, everything disappeared. So then I didn't have nobody around me, nobody to teach. So I started teaching via Zoom, but it’s just not the same. Especially the kids, need that one-on-one contact. You interact better, they learn better that way. So that was definitely a whole that I fell into.

It also made me very nervous. I listened to a lot of information from around me. The situation in Europe, in the States, and I say, boy, this thing it's really rough. And then, you hear different noises everywhere, so you don’t know what to believe anymore. So, you try to find out, but is that possible? For me with my background in physical therapy, I knew a little bit more about the body, and that combined with some common sense, made me take this thing very seriously, and I think we all have to share our part.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬, 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐥? I don't think we can go back to normal because it happened already. And if you look at the news, you have different strains and it's getting worse. And, as a touristic country, tourists coming here, decides what will happen here.

The upside of having this Corona pandemic is that it’s waking up people and get them back to hygiene because a lot of us, are like ‘’happy go lucky’’ and don't pay attention to our hygiene anymore. Not taking care of yourself, the foods we eat, fast food, fast life, no time to rest. We have to build up our immune system, by exercising and eating the right foods, and we have to start teaching that again in schools.

Yeah. What I'm going to miss is that hugging, ‘’knuffeling’’, even my students, you know, big and small. It's something that gives you that bond. And if that is already gone, how do you get back to that normal now?

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞? I am in contact with almost 500 people in a week's time. So, if I would get it, (with or without me noticing it), I will infect so many people. So, the smartest thing for me to do is to get that vaccine, to make sure that I’m causing trouble. Big trouble, because there are so many people who I depend on and they depend on me. So that’s my main reason for taking the vaccine. They are learning more and more about the virus, but for the time being, the vaccine is our best way to tackle this pandemic. That and sticking to the rules, and getting your immune system up to par.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞? I would refer them to the science, that educational part of it. You have to know a little more about, the transmission of the virus. How do you get it, what it actually is? It's a respiratory something and how can you combat that? How you can protect yourself, and others? So you got to try to make sure that you explain and educate the people, then they will understand. It’s important is show them: ‘’Hey, this is facts’’. Look how many people are dying, especially with these new strains. So, we've got to get rid of this. That that is better for everybody. If only half of us take it, we're still nowhere.

You have a strain that comes from Ireland. I think one from South Africa and I have a Brazilian one. It's really getting crazy. The vaccine is the best way, to make sure that we break the cycle. Unless we want to start over on the moon!.

The best thing we can do is educate. Try to break it down for them so they see: ‘’Hey, this is the science talking. Yes, it’s safe, and it will help us.’’

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Yesterday, the President of the board of the White & Yellow Cross Care Foundation, who is currently on Anguilla, received the Covid-19 vaccine.

Michel Soons: ‘’Even though 2000 people already signed up, I could get the vaccine almost right away. I was also one of the first to receive one, as they started the campaign yesterday".

It was organized especially well, and everything went very smoothly. Within 20 minutes I was out the door again feeling completely fine. No side effects whatsoever so went for a walk on the beach.

I’m happy that I got the opportunity to take the vaccine because I am worried about the consequences of the Covid-19 virus to my lungs, heart, and brain. Secondly, I also did it for the rest of my family, but also the economy and the island in general.’’

Michel Soons is a project developer, and has been with the White & Yellow Cross Care Foundation since 1993, and has been the President of the Board since 2006.

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Our 5th Covid-19 Vaccine Interview is with no-one less than 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐥 𝐆𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐬!

𝐂𝐚𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐮𝐬 𝐚 𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟? My name is Marcel Gumbs. I was born in Curacao and I moved back here when I was six and I've lived here all my life. I've been involved in public service in the noble profession of politics for some 23 years, and I have also been working at the airport as traffic controller for 14 years. I am a member of the Steering Committee of the Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, and in my free time, I like to really socialize. I'm also a member of an eating club: ‘’La Chaine des Rotisseurs’’, where we meet every six weeks under normal circumstances.

𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃 𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞? It has affected me in the sense that it makes me much, much more conscious of my environment. I’m used to social activities, and so that has changed. It also has brought me to the realization that I have to pay, and we all have to pay more attention to our health and immune systems. Because I've learned very early on that, the stronger your immune system, the fewer chances you have of the virus affecting you.

It required quite some adaptation, which is not always easy and it’s still not really the same. Of course, we all miss that touch, that feels, that hug. I think with the boops and the elbows, you just got to close your eyes and imagine that it's a hug and a squeeze. The fact that we’re not able to travel and get off the Island is though. Most of you, know it very well: ‘’You get Island fever’’.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐥? The best way to go back to normal is for us to do what must be done. Wear a mask, wash your hands, sanitize, it keeps social distance because that has proven to reduce the numbers, not only here but all over the world.

Now that the vaccine being available, I think that is definitely one of the things we'll have to do in order to get back to normal as soon as possible. But we also have to be realistic too and work together with the French side, because the virus doesn’t stop by the border, and asks permission to cross.

Because our business is tourism, it has to get back to normal as quickly as possible. But fasten your seatbelt, because it’s going to take a while before we see cruise ships and flights coming back fully loaded, unfortunately. Because these are the people from the middle class, and that group is broke at this moment. So, it's likely going to take a year or two for them to get back us and get things back to normal.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞?

I will be taking the vaccine the minute it is available. My reason for taking the vaccine is because it is scientifically proven, and we must have confidence in the science. Imagine what the world would be If we did not have confidence in science. We would not have cell phones, planes, or the internet.

Imagine that when you were a child and your parents were asked if they were going to vaccine you for a chickenpox vaccine, and they said, no, no, no, no vaccine. Well, you would get chickenpox and you would die. So, your parents said yes, go ahead and get the vaccine, because it is something that saves lives. And I see no reason why the vaccine for the COVID-19 would not save lives.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞? Do not follow the negative narratives that are out there. This has become so easy to put out something negative now with social media, whether it's WhatsApp, Instagram, or Twitter.

Do not be doubtful because when you were a kid, your parents agreed and followed instructions and you got the vaccine, not only for the chickenpox but for polio and for everything. So why not take the vaccine now? And by not taking it, you're hurting those loved ones around you. So I would encourage everyone to go and take the vaccine because that's the way to go and for us to get back to normal, as soon as possible.

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