MOURNERS yester-day heard that four-year-old Rushawn Burford wanted to become a pilot. But a gunman's bullet, fired during a heated argument with a relative of the boy on January 31, denied him that wish.
Reflecting on that tragedy, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, who is the political representative for Central Kingston in which Rushawn's Allman Town community sits, lamented that the killing need not have happened.
"Children are not to be slaughtered. They are [made in] the image of God and they are to be encouraged and taught to be good citizens. I mourn for the parents and the family. I deplore the spirit of murderousness and anger that could have brought about something like this," Minister Thwaites told the Jamaica Observer at the funeral service at the Salvation Army Church on Prince of Wales Street in Allman Town.
"I hope that the community will rally around to comfort the bereaved and also that they will pass on any information regarding the whereabouts of the murderer," Thwaites added.
Samantha Graham, who once lived on Lord Elgin Street where the murder was committed, told the mourners that Rushawn "had many beautiful sides to him" just like "a rainbow".
"He was loving, kind-hearted, respectful, jovial, high-spirited and brilliant," she said. "From the age of three, Rushawn knew what his profession would be. His future ambition was to become a pilot. Now, that dream will never come through."
Berthlyn Plummer, senior social worker with the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), said Jamaica will never become a better and more developed society unless citizens learn how to settle small disputes.
"It hurts when it happens to an adult, but when you have to attend a young child's funeral, whose life has been taken away and has nothing to do with what happened, it hurts even more," Plummer said.
"He got up and got ready to go to school, but he did not make it to school. The morning I got the call and was told of Rushawn's death I said to myself, 'My God, when is this going to stop?'" she said.
Plummer then issued an appeal to the residents to discuss their differences instead of turning to violence.
"I know everybody can text; text somebody and say 'Hold it dung, hold it dung, man!'" Plummer pleaded.
"There are places that you can turn to. The Salvation Army is right here to give community support. Other agencies are all over in Allman Town. Just call somebody. Just call PMI. Call another agency. Just call or text before you are going to make a move," she said. "We are no strangers!"
After the funeral service, Rushawn was buried at the family plot in Cambridge, St James.