“We must take a stand or we will spend our days mourning the loss of our loved ones,” Canon Ronald Branche said on Tuesday as he delivered a spirited homily at the funeral of murdered primary school teacher Henry Mack, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain.
Branche said Mack’s murder created a gap not only in the staff at the school, but also in the community as he cited Mack’s years of service to his neighbourhood by providing lessons to children free of charge.
“Teachers are hard to come by. Male teachers are especially scarce. We should never underestimate or take for granted what teachers have to offer. Just like the artist has his canvas and the sculptor his stone, the materials of teachers are living, breathing material fashioned in the image of the creator.”
Branche called on the public to take a stand against the criminal element and said despite recent responses to rising crime, criminals continue to run amok. “All over the country there are people marching for peace in the communities and yet there is mayhem. When some senseless thug comes with his foolishness to take out a teacher we must let our voices be heard.”
Scores of past and present students of the Escalier Government Primary School in Morvant attended Mack’s funeral to pay their final respects to the man many affectionately referred to as ‘Teach’.
A long-time friend and colleague of Mack, said students are still struggling to come to terms with his death. “He was like a surrogate father to many of the children whom he taught. The school is located in a socially depressed area and they either come from single-parent households or from homes where both parents work two jobs to try and make ends meet. He was always there for them, and it’s sad to see that he is gone.”
Mack, 47, died in a drive-by shooting while leaving a mini-mart on Lady Young avenue at around 7.30 pm last Tuesday. Another man, 24-year-old James Julian, was also killed, and a third, identified as Jhamali Haywood, was wounded.