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Jul 27, 2018

Grief Therapy for Surviving Family Members of Slain Children

Murders and other violent crimes are continuously being committed against innocent children. While the tragic stories fade from the headlines, the pain—emotional and psychological—continues to impact surviving family members and friends. Tonight, News Five’s Duane Moody revisits the murder of three minors and finds out how families are coping with assistance from support groups.

 

Alva Moody

Alva Moody, Mother of Etana Bennett [File: July 24th, 2018]

“I noh really accept weh happen.  I feel sad, I miss my baby. But the person who did it, I know who you are and like you say, it wasn’t me and it wasn’t my baby you want.  It was either me or the next two, but you take away my only life from me.  So don’t worry, God ain’t sleeping.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Pain, anger, denial, revenge—a ball of emotions wrapped up in a single statement by Alva Moody, the mother of three-year-old Etana Bennett, who was shot to the temple and died earlier this week following a shooting on Gill Street, Belize City on Sunday morning. That’s the trauma that mothers, siblings and loved ones endure when innocent children are victims of the urban gun violence in Belize. Since the start of the year, three children have died as a result of sexual abuse and violence, including seventeen-month old baby girl, Alyssa Nunez, who was allegedly raped in Maskall Village and died within days at the K.H.M.H. on March fifth. This was immediately followed by the murder of four-year-old Port Loyola Pre-school student, Treshawn Goff. It’s described as a heartache that will never go away.

 

Latifah Sutherland

Latifah Sutherland, Mother of Treshawn Goff [File: March 27th, 2018]

“This pain dah wah pain I woulda never wish on my worst enemy. I swear to God. People say be strong, be strong, you have a second child…be strong. But they don’t understand; it noh easy, especially when the person well my baby—that dah my firstborn. I noh di say I love my son more than my daughter; I love them equally, but me and him had a special bond because he was there before, long before my daughter. But just fi know that he no wah deh deh, fi his personality alone make yo miss ahn more.”

 

Today, we caught up with Shakira Young, the founder of the ‘Light our Hearts’ and the Tyler Savery Foundation, who back in November 2016 her seven year old son, was gunned down near Moon Cluster on Daly Street in north side Belize City. Created in honor of her son’s life, Young says that the annual vigil and vision of the organization is to work with mothers and the larger family whose loved ones have been ripped from their arms due to the unending urban violence.

 

Shakira Young

Shakira Young, Founder, Tyler Savery Foundation

“I’ve been doing quite a limited amount of outreach. The reason why I say limited is because the funds aren’t really there for me to do what I really want to do. I think in March I shared with you my vision of moving mothers forward and doing more with them to start a networking and a support group. In March we tried to target the mothers for women’s month. Summer…right now we are working on the kids to try to impact them and then for Christmas then we address the grieving kids.”

 

Young believes that while a deceased person is directly the victim of violence, surviving family and friends are also victims because the trauma affects them psychologically.

 

Treshawn Goff

Shakira Young

“They do become victims and I always say that I could speak personally for myself because Duane I have been through that dark phase of my life where suicide was my only option; where starving myself was the only option I saw; where sleeping with medication was the only option I had. Definitely we do become victim. My family became victim as well because I came to lash out on them because they are the closest ones around me. So everyone was affected.”

 

The Belize City Council, in the wake of the recent murder of Bennett, embarked on a Grief Therapy Programme that seeks to provide counseling services for the families of slain children and youth.

 

Candice Pitts

Dr. Candice Pitts, Councilor, Belize City Council

“We cannot take it for granted that the families who have lost their loved ones have the kind of support system that they need. So we are putting in place a grief therapy programme that will be accessible to all the residents of Belize City. One of the concerns that we have observed just from this three-day programme is that many of the residents who would need this kind of support system don’t usually access it because of its affordability. They don’t seek a counselor because it is anywhere between twenty-five to0 fifty dollars per session and interestingly, the violence takes place primarily on the south side of the city.”

 

Shakira Young

“Don’t allow your circumstances and brokenness to keep you down because it was my brokenness that allowed me to know how strong I truly was. And now I have become somebody that I didn’t even know I was capable of being.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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