Laing Ave fire children get counselling

The pain and lingering sense of loss that still batters Laing Avenue fire victims have not spared their children, many of whom opened up to counsellors yesterday about the three weeks since the blaze.

Just over three dozen people were left homeless after a fire on October 11 ripped through apartments in a range building.

“I still dream of the fire”, a lad revealed pointing out that he was sad on the day the incident happened and that he cried as did many of his friends who live close by. Though he is doing a little better now, he wishes everything was back to normal and that he was in his own home, sleeping on his own bed and still in possession of his school clothes and books.

The Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security organized a social work intervention for the affected children at the West Ruimveldt Wesleyan Church.

The Georgetown Chapter of the Pastor’s Wives and Widows Association and the Welfare Workers of the church collaborated on the initiative.

Marva Williams, Assistant Chief Probation and Social Services Officer told Stabroek News yesterday that the exercise was about reclaiming the individual spirit and renewing hope. She said the children were chosen as the first target group because many of them are still very young and struggling to understand what happened.

She noted that the exercise included sit-downs, interactive sessions, fun activities and bonding. Williams added that the children were being told how to start taking back their lives since the fire.

A fair amount of children from Laing Avenue turned out yesterday and participated fully. Many of the children opened up about their feelings on the night of the fire, how they felt in the days following and how they feel now.

Sadness and fear were among the most expressed feelings and many of the young ones are still trying to get past the fire.

“I was afraid too”, one child said but noted that he is not anymore. Others said they cried and are still crying over their loss and their parents’ loss.

The death of Melissa Griffith, a resident who reportedly succumbed to excessive smoke inhalation, came up and many of them expressed how sad they were to learn of her passing.

The children also spoke of the widespread theft that went on during the fire. One lad said he lost a watch, another one related that after fetching out some books they disappeared. Many of them said they were aware that persons turned up at the scene pretending to be of assistance.

According to Williams, the ministry intends to follow up with the children over the coming weeks since an assessment would be done to determine what their needs are. She said they will continue to work with persons in the area but place specific focus on the children.

Those assisting with the children yesterday included Rosel English, Rawl Williams, Felissa Haynes, Grace Haynes and Faye Crawford.

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