There were many challenges along the way of creating Breathe Better Air. They stemmed from many different aspects and areas but mainly it was doubt. People didn’t believe that I could make a difference and they didn’t think that my campaign would last. I truly feel that not only can I make a difference but so can you and everyone on St.Maarten. If every person on the island picked up litter that they pass, St.Maarten would be a much cleaner place. If more people stopped using single use plastics, we could control the landfill better. If more people used compostable items instead of single use plastics, and in turn composted them, St. Maarten would be fertile and greener. It starts with an idea that can blossom into so much more. Some people believed that only big companies and corporations could make a change in the environment and stop the Dump from burning. In the beginning I got very few volunteers but, after seeing my resilience and passion for making a change, despite there being naysayers, people started to come around.
One of the biggest setbacks I had was with the health surveys we took at the dump. Online surveys went well and we received nearly 200 responses from people all over the island. However, when we went to the Dump to survey the people actually living there, most of the people didn’t want to speak to us because they were afraid. We finally found someone willing to speak to us and she explained that the residents were afraid that if they spoke up they would call attention to themselves as they were not living on the Dump legally. They were afraid that the government would evict them from their homes. So, they preferred to not seek any recourse and live with the toxic smoke killing them rather than take the risk that they would be homeless. The consequence of this was that we didn’t have many surveys answered from those people who actually lived on the Dump and this skewed the result data. The data would have showed a much worse reaction to people’s health if we had included surveys the people most affected. Those people were living on the Dump itself.
Although I have come across many challenges, I will continue to persevere and protect the environment. St. Maarten is worth more to me than any challenge I could face.