Wednesday 8 April, 2020

VIDEO: A rose for Benjamin: 7-y-o peer pays tribute to fallen friend

Peers and a visiting teacher around Daryl Harris on Tuesday morning amid his grief at the loss of his friend, Benjamin Bair, in a tragedy at Clan Carthy Primary School in St Andrew on Monday afternoon.

Peers and a visiting teacher around Daryl Harris on Tuesday morning amid his grief at the loss of his friend, Benjamin Bair, in a tragedy at Clan Carthy Primary School in St Andrew on Monday afternoon.

Tuesday morning when seven-year-old Daryl Harris arrived at school and went to his grade two classroom at Clan Carthy Primary in St Andrew, he was excited and looking forward to seeing his friend, Bemjamin Bair.

But when the child arrived there was something strange about the atmosphere in the classroom, and there were also a lot of strange people gathered around whispering among themselves.

Harris recalled that the day before he heard school officials talking about a boy who died when a truck left unattended on the school compound, ended up slamming into a wall and then overturned, injuring a number of persons.

Benjamin Bair

Despite hearing that news, Harris believed that all of what he heard were parts of a dream that he expected would go away as soon as he got home, went to bed and woke up the following day.

It took quite a while for young Harris to realise that he would never get a chance to see his friend alive again.

Consumed with grief and confusion, the young student sat down and cried profusely.  

He then did something that made a teacher, Bernice Beckett-Duhaney, Vice Principal of Holy Rosary Primary and President of East Kingston District Association within the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), almost break down in tears. She was one of several officials from the education sector who came to the school on Tuesday to help provide counselling for those who had been traumatised by tragedy that rocked the school community and the nation at large.

Her experience and interaction with Daryl in his time of grief are outlined in the video below, produced by Marlon Reid and Kimmo Matthews.

 

With trembling hands and tears rolling down his cheeks, the broken young Harris placed a rose on the desk where his fallen friend would sit, and then proceeded to write a letter in memory of his dear friend.

“I told Benjamin that we could play a number of games and that we miss him,” said Harris in reference to his letter.

The outside of the letter from seven-year-old Daryl Harris to his departed classmate and friend, Benjamin Bair.

Beckett-Duhaney said she marvelled at the level of maturity that Harris showed, if only for the moment, as his next question would expose a level of naivety that a tender mind can display on occasions.

The bout of naivety was revealed when Harris asked his teacher if he (Harris) saved his money and bought a present for his friend, would it bring him back alive.

“Miss, if I save my money and buy a present, can I give it to Benjamin (alive)?” asked Harris.

The moment presented a somewhat awkward situation for the teacher as she tried to explain that no earthly deed could bring back young Benjamin to life.

On Tuesday, during the counselling session, Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Minister with responsibility for education, Karl Samuda; Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips; and South East St Andrew Member of Parliament (MP), Julian Robinson, were among those who visited the school to meet with the teachers, students and parents to also offer support.

The sessions, however, did very little to silence the gut-wrenching screams that were heard as relatives of young Benjamin wept openly.

But members of the school community have vowed to remain strong in the face of the tragic development.

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