BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau email@example.com
FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Junior Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown admitted that the Government will have to do much more to protect citizens, as he paid tribute to eight-year-old British girl Imani Green, who was shot and killed in Duncans in this parish earlier this month.
The minister, who was speaking at the Thanksgiving Service for Imani's life at the William Kinbb Baptist Church yesterday, described the circumstances surrounding the child's death as "very tragic and unfortunate".
Imani was killed on January 11 after a lone gunman peppered a shop with bullets in the Red Dirt section of Duncans, Trelawny. Three adults, including two women, were also injured in the incident. They have since been released.
No one has been charged in connection with the widely publicised incident, but the police say they have strong leads and are aggressively pursuing them.
During his tribute, Brown also expressed condolences to the bereaved family on behalf of the Government, adding that "we have to ensure that we make Jamaica a safe place for the citizens, particularly the children, to live and to enjoy themselves here".
"The young girl had a lot of promise and was full of life and very energetic, and more than anything else, she loved Jamaica dearly. It was a pleasure for her to be in Jamaica," he told the congregation.
Brown's glowing tribute was one of several heard by the large congregation that gathered at the historic church for what was a touching two-hour-long service yesterday.
Imani's parents, Richard and Donna Green, could hardly mask their grief.
In fact, Richard wept uncontrollably outside in the churchyard while other relatives were kept busy comforting the child's inconsolable mother as she sat in the front pew.
Family friend Kwesi-Kari Fisher who delivered a tribute on behalf of the parents, painted a cheerful picture of the eight-year-old.
"Imani loved to laugh, and made friends easily. She was happy, friendly, confident, charming and was extremely brave. She made us proud and will always be in our hearts," the parents wrote.
"Life will never be the same without our beautiful earth angel."
Imani's five-year-old brother Tyrese Green said his sister was irreplaceable.
"I have sweet memories of you. You were full of sunshine and love and gave us something to look forward to. Things will never be the same, but I believe that God needed someone in heaven who is as special as you," Tyrese said.
Delivering the eulogy, Veronica Hyatt told the congregation that although Imani's time on earth was short, she had, nevertheless, made an invaluable contribution.
Yesterday, Reverend Devere Nugent in his sermon urged the congregation not to be daunted by those in the society who have scant regard for human life.
He noted that the community was not only saddened by Imani's death, but residents were "angry and hurting".
He challenged them, however, to turn to God, as the Government by itself could do very little.
"Regardless of which political party is in power, the crisis will not change. We have had the changing of governments in a short period of time and nothing has changed, but our God will not change. Where people will change, our God will not change," he emphasised.