TWO children, whose tragic deaths in the past week touched the nation, sparking sadness as well as outrage, around the circumstances in which they died, were both buried on Saturday after separate funerals.
At the Williamsville funeral for Shazade Simon, three, who died on September 25, from deep vein thrombosis (blood clot which stopped her heart) caused by burns suffered, her family wore pink, her favourite colour, with her face printed on the front of their T-shirts.
At the La Brea Roman Catholic Church where a funeral service was held for Damari Jeffrey, five, who died by drowning at Fun Splash Water Park on September 24, the theme was blue. From the coffin to the T-shirts family members wore, with his cute face printed in the middle.
Shazade’s family asked the media to leave the His Image Ministry Church, where the service was held, requesting privacy.
Prior to that, Pastor Oswald James in his sermon, said it was a day of joy and also one of sadness, because Shazade was with her heavenly father although her earthly family were mourning her death after her short time with them.
The theme of his sermon was, “Don’t cry for me, papa, I am in a better place,” taken from the telephone message Shazade sent to her grandfather Wendell Lazar, days before she died at the hospital from burns. Shazade had stumbled against a pot of boiling soup Lazar was making for her on a firecracker at his roadside vegetable stall.
James called on parents to take care of their children and bring them up according’s to God’s will.
He said he was seeing too many children growing up without the spiritual moorings and guidance.
“I want to encourage parents, don’t take it for granted. Make decisions to bring up your children in the House of the Lord. This is what would save your children from years of heartache, and grief and pain.
He said too many people saw “having a child as an in thing.”
“This is a wakeup call. Soon, you will have to stand before God to give him an account for the children he has blessed us with.
“You have a duty to help that child grow up to realise their full potential. If you give them the best food, clothes, brand names, but no spiritual upbringing, then you would have failed miserably.
“Do what is right for your children, give them the best opportunity to succeed. For some people it is the ‘in thing’ to have a child. God is no kicks man like Sprangalang or Tommy Joseph. God is serious man and serious about his children upbringing on earth.”
Roman Catholic Priest Fr Dwight Merrick preached a similar sermon of caring for children at Damari’s funeral, where his mother held on to his coffin and wept for the last of her four children.
Merrick spoke to the hundreds of young people who are knocking from "pillar to post" on the streets, asking, “Are those lives not valuable?
“How come no one is seeing it? How come no one is protesting?"
He observed many of them are not even getting the basic care, nourishment or development in terms of body and mind.
“As we pray for this little fella, we also pray for those who are alive in terms of reading and development. It causes all of us who are wasting our lives to think again. Life is so important, what are you doing with it?
Damari was laid to rest at the La Brea cemetery, while Shazade’s body was interred at the Whiteland Public Cemetery.