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Speakers at funeral: Be your brother’s keeper

By Michelle Loubon michelle.loubon@trinidadexpress.com

Clutching her stomach, Morvant mother Michelle Holder wailed during the viewing of the bodies of her beloved children, Jadel Holder, nine, and his older brother, Jamal Brathwaite, 15, at their funeral service yesterday.
The two coffins, which were placed close to each other, were separated by a bell. A portrait of the bright-eyed Jadel Holder, a pupil of Morvant New Government Primary School, was mounted on his coffin. Baby blue candles and wreaths adorned both coffins.
Holder was supported by scores of grieving relatives, including her brother, Nigel Holder, and the boys’ cousin, Augustus Stanislaus, during a celebration of her sons’ lives at Samuel David Simpson Memorial Funeral Chapel, at 63 Eastern Main Road, Laventille, yesterday.
The children were killed on June 1 when gunmen entered their family’s home at Petunia Avenue, Coconut Drive, and forced them to lie down and then shot each one in the head. Holder was also at home but escaped unharmed.
Among those who joined the small knot of mourners were Laventille East/Morvant Member of Parliament Donna Cox, activist Juliet Davy and principal Ms Ward and schoolteachers.
Bishops Kelvin Thomas and Charles Small- Maynard officiated at the funeral service.
The eulogy was delivered by the boys’ sister, Crystal Brathwaite, and cousin, Augustus Stanislaus.
Acting Fire Officer Abe Baker sang “To God Be The Glory” which led the front pew of relatives to cry, hug and console each other.
Mother Camelia delivered a scripture reading.
Consensus among the speakers was “it takes a village to raise a child”.
Other speakers felt young people of Laventille had to face stigma and discrimination which would sometimes lead them down a negative path.
Offering words of consolation, Cox, a proud Laventillian, said: “ It is sad. But we are here to celebrate the lives of these children. There was a time we used to support each other. Everything negative is spoken about the children. But I am asking for it to stop. It takes a village to raise a child.”
Cox added: “I have been meeting with people and asking them to support the mother and they don’t seem interested. It is not my child. It is not my ordeal. We need to stop that. We need to uplift each other. Be mature. It is up to all of us to work together to make a difference. Stop the hate. Be our brother’s keeper and help each other.”
Small-Maynard also shared Cox’s sentiments that it takes “a village to raise a child”. He said: “Where is the village? No nine-year-old is responsible for where they are today. Most of us are responsible for where they are today. We call them hooligans. Bandits. Do you know what he had to do to survive? There are children who do not have a clear way. All that they were doing, they were doing it to survive.”
He added: “The education system is doing an injustice to them. You have a stigma if you are from Laventille and Morvant.”
During his first round of remarks, Thomas said during traumatic times there was the need for forgiveness to promote healing.
He said: “Jesus was begging us to forgive one another. Except you don’t have God in you, you would want to take revenge. Leave the revenge to God.”
During the second segment, Thomas queried where the guns were coming from which created massive destruction among a particular ethnic group. Thomas also said people should resist the urge to “mauvais langue” the family.
“Don’t wash up your mouth on nobody,” said Thomas.
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