photo: Marit Severijnse

Social Service Time, which already exists in the continental Netherlands, has now also started in the special municipality of Bonaire. The intention is for young people to keep developing themselves while doing something for their island. There are projects around, for instance, art, culture, sports, and sustainability.

“For young people here it is not a common occurrence to participate in community projects”, says project manager Jurna Clarenda. “With this project, we hope to stimulate this. They don’t always get this in their homes or at school. I know this from when I myself was their age.”

Bonaire different from European-Netherlands

Social Service Time is meant for young people between 13 and 27 years. “We certainly don’t just copy-paste the European-Dutch variant”, says Clarenda. “We have really looked at what might work here. Our panel of young people comes up with the activities, transportation has been arranged and the organizations don’t have to pay any contribution, because often they do not have the means.”

Former research from the National Ombudsman shows that young people feel that there is not enough for them to do on Bonaire. “So we capitalize on that”, declares Clarinda.

“The more we provide these kinds of things, the less young people have to sit at home”, thinks Maicy. She herself participates in an MDT project about theatre.” It would be good if more young people occupied themselves with community services. I myself hope that Bonaire will develop in the theatre area.”

“The potential is there, but what is holding it back?”

Is it part of the culture of Bonaire to participate in social projects? According to Michael Pocornie, coach and guest lecturer at one of the projects, it certainly is. “The potential is there, but the question is: what is holding us back? That has to do with education, influences, family composition, and school culture.”

“I meet young people that are not motivated and when you get in a deep conversation you hear that they have been through things that they have not processed completely. At home this and that is happening, they have witnessed a divorce or they are being bullied at school, just fill in the gaps.”

According to Pocornie, there is not enough attention in school for this sort of thing “We are too occupied with intellect and performing. ” That is why Pocornie tries to capitalize on that with this project. “I love ‘real talk’. Life has many beautiful things, but there are also horrible things that we need to talk about.”

In the continental Netherlands Social Service Time has existed since 2020. About 60.000 young people are participating in it.