The pain and sorry linger for the innocent children gone too soon

Observer staff reporter

Monday, May 06, 2019

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As much as the parents and relatives of children who died under tragic and violent circumstances tried to hold it in, the tears flowed freely yesterday morning during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Secret Garden Monument in downtown Kingston.

Claudette Daley's face was masked in pain and emotion like the other mothers who sat under a tent during the ceremony, her cries were silent.

Daley's niece, 14-year-old Yetanya Francis was raped and killed in Trench Town, Kingston, eight months ago. The charred remains of the young girl were found behind a church in the community less than 12 hours after she went missing.

The Jamaica Observer was told then that the teenager had gone to purchase food in the community some time after 8:00 pm on August 23. According to the autopsy report, Yetanya was killed by a stab wound to the chest. The police are yet to make a breakthrough in the case.

“This is why I have to come to represent her, knowing that she is not here. I'm not going to see her again,” Daley continued, her tears telling the story of untold grief.

“Her life just gone, just like that; animals, I call them animals because I don't see where somebody could kill a child. A 14-year-old, what can a 14-year-old do to deserve a death like that. She was my little niece, she had manners, and respect, love, and she always made you smile… It is painful and the song that was playing brings back memories,” she said.

Another anguished mother, Trudy-Ann Brown, whose five-year-old son, Rushawn Burford, was killed by gunmen in Allman Town in 2013, said the pain of losing her son would never leave her.

The 28-year-old mother of two said: “I'm trying to keep up, but it's very hard. He would have been 11 years old this year.”

Brown, while noting that her son's killer had been brought to justice, said attending the ceremony for the first time made her feel a bit of relief knowing that the Government remembered the children who died.

It was reported that the relatives of the boy had a disagreement with Marlon Omar McMillan, who goes by the alias Chris “Truthy”, and “Shootie” over the use of a manhole.

During an altercation, it was reported that McMillan left the area, returned with a firearm, and shot at family members. Rushane, who was getting ready to attend the Salvation Army Basic School on Prince of Wales Street, was shot in the head. His grandmother was also shot and injured.

McMillan was sentenced to life imprisonment on November 18, 2016 in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston. He was also sentenced to 15 years in prison for wounding the boy's grandmother. The sentences are to run concurrently. McMillan will have to serve 25 years before he becomes eligible for parole.

The annual event was held by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) under the theme: 'Encourage, enable and include me'. KSAMC CEO Robert Hill urged all adults to double their efforts in protecting the nation's children.

According to Hill, since the start of this year, 11 children have been murdered, 83 raped, and 49 victims of grievous sexual assault. One child committed suicide.

“These are the numbing effects that we have experienced in this year in relation to our children but we have the ability to reverse it. We cannot continue, ladies and gentlemen, to live in this way and the names inscribed on this monument [are] testament to that. So I implore you as adults to protect the greatest treasures we have, our children,” the CEO pleaded.

He also called on the nation to further encourage and uplift the children for the advancement of the country.

“Jamaica, land we love, please provide a sustainable environment for us to thrive and be the best we can be. Please continue to encourage and validate us, educate us and allow us to play and participate in organised activities. Jamaica, land we love, above all defend our interest to the maximum,” Merl Grove High School sixth-former and Deputy Youth Mayor Sherika Campbell pleaded.

The monument and was established in 2008 bears more than 1,000 names. In 2017, then state minister for youth Floyd Green disclosed that the monument had run out of space.

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