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Memorial site to be established for Mahdia fire victims – PM Phillips

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A memorial site will be established in Region Eight to honour the 19 girls and one boy who lost their lives during the horrific Mahdia Secondary School Dormitory fire in May last year.

Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Philips made the announcement when he attended the memorial ceremony in the Micobie Village in Region Eight on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, and Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues at the memorial service at the village’s benab

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, and Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues also journeyed to the Potaro/Siparuni region to show their continued support and solidarity.

“Soon we will also immortalise the memories of our lost girls and boy by establishing a memorial site. This is a necessary move to ensure the lives of these 20 young people will always be etched in our minds and hearts,” the prime minister asserted while speaking at the ceremony.

Prime Minister Phillips lays a wreath during the memorial ceremony

It has been one year since Guyana lost 20 young lives. Of those children, eleven were buried in Micobie, while four each were buried in Karisparu and Chenapou. The lone lad was laid to rest in Georgetown.

Prime Minister Phillips said one of the most important lessons from the tragedy is the protection of the nation’s children in every aspect of life.

Minister Hamilton pledged the government’s continuous support to the families and encouraged them to seek refuge in God.

“Over the ages, when we are confronted with these circumstances all of us refer to God to give us the strength to get through it…especially in these times where we come to celebrate the life of these angels that we lost one year ago,” Minister Hamilton expressed.

Ministers Hamilton, Walrond, and Rodrigues at the burial site in Micobie where the 12 girls were laid to rest

Similarly, Minister Walrond added, “We are standing with you the families and friends not to remember the tragedy but to remember the beautiful souls. We must take this time to reflect on how their wonderful lives and the things they did touch us. Today, may we choose to celebrate the lives that those children have lived,” Minister Walrond stated.

Meanwhile, Minister Rodrigues stressed that the government’s thoughts and prayers remain with everyone in the region, especially during this sad period.

“Our country has shown remarkable strength and resilience. There are times when our country may seem divided but when news of such became known, our country stood still and Guyanese from all walks of life showed solidarity with the grieving families,” the minister posited.

Persons at the memorial service in Micobie

The memorial event saw several residents from nearby villages joining in the celebration of the children’s lives.

Songs, poems, dances, and tributes were also done by the victims’ families and the students who survived the fire.

Since the tragedy, the government has dispensed invaluable support to the families of the deceased and even those who managed to survive the ordeal.

The government stood the expense for some of the survivors to travel overseas to undergo surgery.

A comprehensive mental health response and counselling programme were also introduced for those persons who have been greatly affected by the fire, including parents and other students, among other measures.

A Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) was also launched to investigate the events surrounding the fire.

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