Denham Town teachers working to mend students scarred by violence
When children at the Denham Town Primary School were asked to describe what took place during the 2010 operation by the security forces to capture Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, they did not verbalise the horror they witnessed.
Instead, the spoke loudly through art and drama.
"They produced astonishing artwork depicting the violence they witnessed. If you saw the things they drew, you would be amazed. They just drew from memory," said Venus Scott-Harrison, principal of the school.
"Sistren Theatre came in and tried to help the students, using drama. It was something to see," added Scott-Harrison.
She said Dr Ganseh Shetty, consultant child psychologist at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, spent two terms with the students helping them to deal with the violence they witnessed.
That intervention was needed as the school and the children tried to rise above the violence.
As the artwork is forever etched in the mind of the principal, so are the real scenes in the minds of the children.
Sixth-grade coordinator Janet Williams said the children created a skit in record time.
"It took them the most five minutes to create the skit. Some of them didn't even write anything. When it was their time to talk what happened in the skit, they just talked.
"Go ova deh so, bwoy," Williams recalled one child saying. "Lie dung pon de floor," said another, while "Duh officer, duh officer, nuh kill me," was what one child verbalised.
Sometimes they would talk of the body or bodies they passed on the way to school, or those they saw the night before.
To help these children, the school's administration has decided that those sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test in 2014 should do extra classes in the mornings, so that they get home in daylight hours.
A breakfast programme designed to feed 40 students daily is feeding nearly twice that number.
Scotiabank and Nestlé have been godsend to the school with assistance for the breakfast programme, while the Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme (REAP) sponsored by LASCO is seen as symbolic of the lives of the children.
REAP's motto is "Even the smallest trees have a right to grow", and that is what the teachers at Denham Town believe of the children under their charge.