Four years after the horrendous and shocking Campus Trendz tragedy, one of those people who played an integral role in offering emotional support to the family members of the six young women who perished, is saying the healing process will take time.
Following today’s national minute of silence on the anniversary of the Tudor Street tragedy, Joan Williams, of Victim Support Services, who counselled the hurting mothers and other relatives of the girls as they identified their loved ones’ bodies on that sad night, told Barbados TODAY that families had “to find peace within themselves first, and when they find that peace, they will heal; and healing takes time”.
But Williams was first to admit that finding peace in the circumstances of how Nikkita Belgrave, Kellishaw Olliverre, Tiffany Harding, Pearl Cornelius, Shanna Griffith and Kelly-Ann Welch lost their lives would not be an easy road, its “being a situation which you really cannot walk away from because of its devastating nature”.
“I don’t want that they have a lot of hatred towards the perpetrators or the perpetrators’ family, or even the store owners. We don’t want them to have that kind of hatred; because then they can’t move on.
“And they can only really come to peace by connecting with the Master. If they connect with the Master, they will find peace within themselves; but they will never forget their children. You cannot forget that you have had a child, and the demise of that child. You get to a stage of acceptance; you find peace; and you understand that they have gone on until we get there,” Williams advised.
Rehashing those bitter memories which she said tugged at her heart whenever she revisited the incident, Williams declared that she would never forget the panic in the policeman’s voice who telephoned her home, requesting that she report to the City scene urgently.
She also recalled having to push the tears at the back of her head, as she forced herself to be strong for those family members she had to assist.
“[The policeman] said to me that there were children in the building, because that was the first rumour that came out. So when he spoke to me and I sensed that panic. For me it sent off all the alarms in my system to get there as quickly as possible. Ask me how I got there, I can’t even remember . . . . I will never forget that night,” said a reflective Williams.
She was one of the scores who gathered at Heroes Square today to join the deceased’s family members for the minute of silence and commemorative ceremony organized by the September 3 Foundation. When the clock of the Parliament Buildings signalled it was midday, pedestrians and traffic halted to observe the moment.
Touching renditions in song were delivered by calypsonians Chrystal Cummins Beckles and Peter Adonijah Alleyne, and veteran entertainer Richard Stoute and members of his Teen Talent Competition.
Some mourning relatives briefly spoke to the media about how they were taking life without their relatives.
Tiffany’s grandmother Cecily Harding declared that it was difficult not to miss the granddaughter she had raised from six months old and with whom she had nurtured and formed a deep relationship.
“What more can I do? I got to live with it. But I can’t forget Tiffany at all, because I know that if Tiffany was alive, I wouldn’t have anything to do because she always intended to take over things in the house and put me to sit down and let me relax,” said Harding.
Tricia Chase who identified Tiffany’s body, whispered: “ It is really hard and people think that it gets easier, but really and truly it doesn’t.
“We still feel like it happened yesterday. Nothing has changed. Not a second, minute or hour passes every day and we don’t remember Tiffany,” she cried softly.
Forty-eight months later, Glendine Welch, mother of Kelly-Ann, is still feeling as though the tragedy happened just yesterday. But while Welch is capable of appropriately handling her grief, the deceased’s daughter Khalia Went, who turns nine in November, struggles to handle it.
“She does be fine sometimes but then [there are times] when she goes into her tantrums. It does be hard. She would say she miss she mummy and she wish she mummy was here,” Welch related.
The names of those individuals who perished as a result of domestic violence within the last year were also called out during today’s event.