St Alban’s Primary School has been honouring the memory of nine-year-old Azaria Worrell, who died from cancer last Thursday.
The St James based institution has set up a specially decorated table with a framed photograph of Azaria and some of her belongings she used in class. On that table is a condolence book for parents to sign.
Principal Wendine Prince and teachers went to the school over the weekend to decorate a section of the school’s wall with colourful drawings and short essays about Azaria, produced by her classmates.
This morning, a large white board for students to sign their names began circulation. The first signatures came from Azaria’s classmates. All of her classmates had a good word to say about the child who was diagnosed with leukaemia in May.
There were no tears. But, ‘pretty’, ‘caring’, ‘smart’, and ‘hard-working’ were some of the words they used to describe the girl they affectionately referred to as Pinky because of her love for the colour pink.
“She was a good friend. I feel sad, but I know she would want us to be happy because she was always happy. So, I will try not to be sad,” Oniah Benskin said.
Deanna Leacock said she was already missing Azaria, but noted that she would never forget that she was always happy.
“She was cute, funny, always like to do school work, and she liked to eat,” Darian Worrell recalled.
Azaria’s best friend, Hannah Payne, said the friendship started in the nursery section of the school where they did almost everything together. “But there is some special connection that makes me just love Azaria. I guess, maybe, that if she was here, we would still be best friends,” Payne said. Payne added that while she knew her friend was not well, and though they spent time together in recent weeks, learning of Azaria’s death was “a heart-breaking experience because she was really close to me”.
Nizanna Small remembered Azaria as a good friend. “It was really heart-breaking when I heard that she died,” Small added.
“I feel really sad because she was so young. I miss how she would laugh a lot and she would make up jokes,” is what Gabriel Griffith had to say.
“Pinky was a nice person since she has been at this school. She used to share with me and I used to share with her. She never stopped caring for other people. She was very nice to other people that are hurt. Like for example, people that fell and [got] cut, she would help them up and take them to the classroom and all kinds of stuff. She used to share snacks with people who did not have any snacks,” Marci Garraway added.
Alona Straughn agreed that Azaria was a generous person who was always willing to share with others and help her class teacher. “I will miss how [we] used to play together. She was so nice to me. She treated me like I was her sister,” Straughn said.
Azaria was special, Josiah Gall was quick to point out. “She was a nice girl. Her favourite colour was pink, and her nickname was also Pinky. She also loved to work. She was nice,” Gall added.
“She was really funny. She was generous and caring. She was really nice and I would miss that she used to help me with my schoolwork, especially with mathematics. She used to share her snack with me too,” Zolah-Ski Blackman said.
Christianna Barrow promises to never forget Azaria was always there to help others with their schoolwork, especially when they had difficulty understanding.
Isaiah Marshall said that while he was feeling sad, he was also happy that “Pinky has gone to a better place”.
“I will remember that she was always ready to learn. She loved to colour and she will always be in my heart. I will miss all the times that she would correct us and teach us jokes,” she said.
The little girl did not get to experience her class 3 year because she was receiving chemotherapy. However, Nichole Ifill, who would have taught Azaria in class 1 and 2, told Barbados TODAY that Azaria was that outspoken child who was not afraid to say what was on her mind.
Ifill recalled that Azaria, one of the popular students in the school, was the one who told her what happened on the pasture at lunchtime, while moving one of her fingers from left to right.
“She was always meticulous when it came to doing her homework. Her desk pocket was always clean and tidy because she was a very organized child to the point that when she was in class 2 and [saw] other children’s desk pockets, she would say, ‘listen boy, you can’t come in Miss Ifill [class] with this desk pocket looking like this, try and fix the desk pocket’.
“I remember one time she didn’t score as well as she wanted to in her end of term exam in class 2. It bothered her to the point where the next term, she would come to my desk nearly every day and say ‘Teacher, I did not like the marks that I got, I did not like my marks, it will never happen again.’
“Then another day, she would come back and say, ‘You were pleased with any of my marks? I was not pleased teacher, I promise to work harder.’ It was to the point that another child asked me, ‘Teacher what is Pinky telling you all the time?’ I said we are having a private conversation. So she was really big on doing well,” said Ifill, who explained that she was also one to send homework for Azaria when she was hospitalized.
Ifill, who also visited Azaria in hospital, said she admired the child’s strength and braveness as she fought cancer.
“You’re going into a hospital where there [are] sick children, but she is up talking, and on her tablet and so on. She was an inspiration where she was diagnosed with cancer but she was being positive throughout. I went and look for her the morning when I heard that she was very low. I missed seeing her pass like six minutes or so. I was devastated when I saw her. It was really heartbreaking. But what comforted me is that she was at peace. The expression on her face was very calm and peaceful, and I know that she was in a better place. It was a pleasure being her teacher, and it was a pleasure knowing her,” Ifill recalled.
A funeral service will be held for Azaria on December 19, at the Garden Church of God, Reid Gap, St James, beginning at 2 p.m.