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Pain that will not die

Overcome by the moment: The sister of Tiffany Harding (second from right) and others found it difficult to hold back their tears.

by Emmanuel Joseph

Pain that just will not die.

That was the sum of the feelings of many family members as the country paused today and reflected on the September 3, 2010 tragedy that claimed the lives of six young women in a blaze after the Campus Trendz clothing store on Tudor Street, the City, was fire-bombed by criminal hands.

Huddled under the scorching sun in Heroes Square, parents, other family members, friends and well-wishers, were joined by representatives of the newly-established September 3 Foundation, Minister of Family and Youth, Stephen Lashley, Minister of Housing and Lands, Michael Lashley and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene-Sandiford Garner, to remember the dead women.

It was also the moment when the country stood still at noon for one minute, as a mark of introspection, not only with regards to the violent death of Kelly-Ann Welch, Kellishaw Ollivierre, Nakkita Belgrave, Pearl Amanda Cornelius, Shanna Griffith and Tiffany Griffith, but also violence in general.

Grim-faced bystanders, watched from a far, as somber looking parents and guardians of the dead girls held aloft, almost life-size photographs of their daughters.

With two years of pain still etched on their faces, members of the six families stood shoulder to shoulder, as Minister of Family Stephen Lashley and head of the September 3 Foundation, David Comissiong addressed the gathering.

In the audience was Coleen Ollivierre, the Vincentian mother of Kellishaw, who had travelled from her neighbouring Caribbean homeland to join in the observance and to lay a wreath on her daughter’s grave.

“It’s been very hard and painful for me because we were very close. She used to correspond with me at least three times per day. She had called me about 10 to five that afternoon. That was the most horrible thing, cause that was the last time yuh could hear yuh daughter’s voice after being so close and had promised to come and spend time with her in the same September and she didn’t spend,” lamented mother Ollivierre, as she fought back the tears.

She pointed out that she had actually spoken with Kellishaw about 15 minutes before the tragedy, and she promised to call back, but death got in the way.

“I thank God for keeping all of us, yuh know, because it’s not I alone in it. He has given us the grace, courage and strength. Today, I should have been celebrating at my daughter grave in St. Vincent, but I chose to come here, because I was absent last year,” the grieving mother added.

For the mother of Kelly-Ann Welch, the pain gets worse every year.

“That thing will only go when I dead. It has not been getting any lesser. The organisers wanted to hold the ceremony back out by the store in Tudor Street, but I said no way. I am not going back out there ever,” declared Glendine Welch.

Just before and since Tiffany Harding’s death, her family has had to face a series of deaths, including that of Tiffany’s mother and grandmother. Her cousin Monica Chase told Barbados TODAY that every Friday had become a trying time for her daughter who often went to town on that day with Tiffany.

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