Child Month takes cruel twist
A major thrust for Child Month was to focus on safety tips for children. However, in a cruel twist of fate, a community has been plunged into grief and despair following a blaze that claimed the lives of two children yesterday morning.
Rosalee Gage-Grey, head of the Child Development Agency (CDA), is pleading with parents to be vigilant and to make children's safety their priority.
The minors have been identified as 10-year-old Nyheema Barrett, who attended the Allman Town Primary School in Kingston, and five-year-old Shaeem Green, who was a student at the Mulvina White Basic School.
Assistant Superintendent Horace Thomas of the York Park Fire Station said preliminary investigations show that the incident, which happened at 5 Heathfield Road in St Andrew, was caused by a mosquito destroyer.
He said the fire department got the call about the fire at approximately 4:13 a.m. and three units responded from the York Park, Trench Town, and Half-Way Tree fire stations.
Gage-Grey told The Gleaner that the news left her saddened.
"It's always very sad when we hear of these incidents. It's Child Month and safety was a big part of the thrust for this year. I remember when I participated in the 'Read Across Jamaica' activity at the Central Branch Primary School, which is right across the road, a huge focus of the discussion had to do with fires and safety tips, and to hear this now is very sad," she said.
"Our officers were there this morning. I have not received the official statement, but as an agency, we try to provide counselling support to the family during this time," she continued.
The CDA boss also informed The Gleaner that as children go off for the summer holidays, the agency would be increasing its communication efforts to provide safety tips for parents and children.
In tears, Keneisha Ingram, a close family friend who spoke with The Gleaner at the scene of the incident, called on Christians to pray fervently for the nation's children.
"They are not road children. They go to church regularly and are very attentive students at school," she told The Gleaner.
Ingram added: "We are in Child Month and this is just too much. I'm calling on all the churches, all the prayer warriors to just cover and pray for the children, pray for our country. For too long, we get caught up with our own activities, but let us take the time to care more for one another."