(GuyanaChronicle)A MASSIVE fire that gutted the Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory has left a number of families in anguish as they mourn the loss of their loved ones and pray for the speedy recovery of those who are hospitalised.
The Guyana Chronicle visited the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) where relatives of some of the girls who were air-dashed to the city, had gathered.
They sat on benches outside the Intensive Care Unit, with a blank expression on their face. The Guyana Chronicle was able to speak with some of them and they used the opportunity to reflect on the good times.
Beverly Simmons’ cousin, Ulyne Stephens, described her as someone who would always bring a smile to the faces of everyone even in a “gloomy” room.
Still devasted by her cousin’s condition and the battle she now faces, Stephens said that she was hoping to receive an update on her condition. She and her aunt had just arrived at the GPHC.
“We never expected anything like that,” the 18-year-old said when asked about the fire.
“Kind,” “friendly” and “funny” were some of the adjectives Simmons’ cousin used to describe her.
Reflecting on how her cousin was always energetic, Stephens said: “When we are at home, we usually go play football, go into the river, go to the farm [and] come out to the village and walk and meet people.”
Stephens, who is a former student of the Mahdia Secondary School, disclosed that she previously lived in the dormitory and thus, she was left shocked when she got the news.
When asked how she felt after hearing that apart from those hospitalised, 19 children had died, she responded: “I felt really scared because I attended that school and I [lived] in that dormitory.”
While trying to contain her tears, she added, “I felt so sad today [for] the ones that died.”
The teen said her wish is for her cousin “to feel better and that nothing [worse] happens to her.”
This publication spoke to a businesswoman and her daughter who frequently visit Mahdia and the surrounding villages.
Being well-acquainted with several of the injured girls, Shameeza Ali said that her interaction with them was never dull.
“They were always laughing” she said, adding that they were friendly with everyone.
She further stated that this tragedy is heart-breaking to her and she cannot begin to understand the unimaginable shock the victims’ families are enduring.
Meanwhile, relatives and friends took to social media to express their shock and sadness at the incident which has been described as a national disaster.
In her comments to other sections of the media, Rihana Jeffrey, sister of now deceased, Bibi Rita Fiona Jeffery, said she was torn to pieces by the news of her passing.
“Life has shown us again its hurtful side by taking you away from us when we didn’t see it coming. My dearest sister you didn’t deserve to die in [this] very tragic way. I can’t begin to imagine the trauma, pain, horror, you been through screaming and crying for help. I am scattered. I feel the pain in my guts, liver, lungs, spleen, kidney heart, brain and every part of my body. There’s no way to make up for time lost and now gone but I hope wherever you are, you know that you are truly loved and we hope you find peace and joy … please watch over your colleagues that are still fighting for their lives. Ask God to lay hands on them and heal them. My baby girl I know Jesus has welcomed you into his loving arms…. Rest in peace my baby girl,” the woman said.
She recalled that the family had prayed hard for a sister.
“He answered our prayers [but] 13 years later he take you home back to him … my heart can’t take it no more,” she said.
While talking about how close they were, Rihana who was trying to contain her emotions said: “Her last words to me was ‘Goodnight, sweet dreams, I love you’ and I tell her back the same thing.”
This publication also spoke with the Mayor of Mahdia, David Adams, who said that the township is in absolute shock and devastation.
“We [are] mourning the loss, the tragic incident. Never in the history of our township, have we had such an incident and then it is kids, all young children,” he expressed sadly.