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Sep 24, 2018

Coping Through a Tragic Loss

The fire at the corner of Progress and Cinderella Streets in Orange Walk has caused emotional distress. Five adults and seven children survived and have been left displaced. Today, counselors from the Belize Community Counselling Center were at the family’s home meeting with affected family members, helping them get through this difficult time. The Ministry of Education has partnered with school counselors to speak with teachers and students who knew the children well. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

The deaths of thirty-five year old Alfredo Petillo and Jeda, Mia and Kevawn Clarke have sent shockwaves through the Orange Walk Community. In light of the devastating event, he Ministry of Human Development has reached out to all families affected, deploying counselors to meet with the family. The Ministry of Education has done the same with students and teachers at the schools that the children attended.


Carla Alvarez

Carla Alvarez, District Education Manager, O. W.

“We are using these counselors at the school to help the teachers to cope and also the teachers. We have also recruited the counselors from other high schools like here in the case of Bishop Martin, we have the counselor from BHSA and we have the counselor from Orange Walk Technical High School coming this afternoon and also I believe the counselor from Muffles College.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Is there any follow up expected with regards to the individual sessions with the students and the teachers?”


Carla Alvarez

“That will be determine on how the teachers and students are able to cope. So we cannot say that this is a one day or one shot thing. I guess we have to monitor the situation. I am keeping in close communication with the administrators from both schools and visiting the schools. We are here as the Ministry of Education to help in whatever way we can.”


Kevawn Clarke attended Bishop Martin High School. His chair in his second form class has been decorated with messages and written memories of his peers like Walenster Adolphus and Joshua Nah


Joshua Nah

Joshua Nah, Friend of Deceased

“Kevawn always use to laugh. One good trait about Kevawn like what they say, he use to drop, brush it off and smile. That was the good part with Kevawn.”


Walenster Adolphus

Walenster Adolphus, Friend of Deceased

“Kevawn is a person who would never feel depress. We can tell him the dumbest of the stuff, we can tease him but he would never get sad. He would always smiel and get up back and laugh, He always thought positive and never negative.”


Clarke’s two sisters, Mia and Jeda were part of the St. Peter’s Anglican School family. Principal Rosanna Briceno told News Five that the students and teachers are supporting each other though this difficult time.


Rosanna Briceño

Rosanna Briceño, Principal, St. Peter’s Anglican School

“It has been a rough day for all of us here at St. Peter’s but thanks God with the support that the Ministry has provided and our management, I see them slowly but surely dealing with their fears, dealing with their sadness. It will take a while. This is just today. Imagine after the funeral. I think this is where they will need consistent support. Because the classroom is so small, these children look out for each other on a daily basis. The most affected classrooms are the standard four and standard six. So what we ask the teachers to do is let the teachers voice their concerns. Let them talk about what they heard and they as the teachers can give them the facts and help them cope and grieve. They are writing letters of support to the family. They are making cards. They are just expressing their emotions. Everyone knew them. They weren’t in the office visiting me all the time but they were always on the playground, always visible. Their parents are always here. I think what our teachers mention today is that every time they close their eyes they see the children’s faces over and over and I think that makes it hurt more. They were invisible children, not at St. Peter’s.”


The Ministry of Human Development is also providing material aid to all three families inclusive of burial assistance to help with funeral costs. Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


The People’s United Party today extended condolences to the Petillo Family. In a release, the P.U.P. called on the government to address the many challenges facing the Fire Department nationwide.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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