Education and Youth Minister Fayval Williams, is appealing to parents to provide adequate supervision for their children and not to leave them home alone.
In an emotional send-off on Sunday (July 3) for two Clarendon sisters who perished in a fire at their Haylesfield home on March 24, Minister Williams said parents should “ensure that [children] are always in the care of an adult, as you never know what the tragedy will be”.
“Hold your children a little closer,” she said.
A small casket at the Race Course Seventh-day Adventist Church bore the remains of four-year-old Kayla Tomlinson and three-year-old Abigail Tomlinson, who were home alone when the fire started.
In her tribute, the Minister called on the community to support the grieving parents, Micey Walters and Owen Tomlinson, who wept openly and sometimes uncontrollably. She said the deaths had gripped the nation with a deep sense of sorrow.
“Pray with your children,” the Minister urged. “Ask God’s guidance over them because none of us can imagine the pain [of the parents] and none of us would want such a situation to happen to any of us”.
She extended sympathy on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Youth, and the entire education sector, noting that, “all our hearts were broken as we received the tragic news of these deaths”.
Other tributes for the sisters came from Councillor for the Race Course Division, Pauline Reynolds, relatives of the children, and teachers and students at the Race Course Primary and Infant School.
Principal, Monica Smiley, described the grief felt by the school community as “unimaginable”.
Little Kayla was a student at the institution, while Abigail was registered to take up enrolment in September.
“Kayla was a bright girl who participated well in everything. Whenever I go into her class, she’s always ready to high-five. She was a pleasant little girl, and we will miss her dearly,” Mrs. Smiley said.
The funeral was officiated by Pastor Loxley Tulloch and the sisters were laid to rest at the family plot in Haylesfield.
“Hold Your Children A Little Closer” – Jamaica Education Minister