Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, June 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The tragic end of four-year-old Kimora
Millette, who died in a fire on Tuesday,
shows the need for collective prayers, says
Minister in the Ministry of the People
and Social Development Vernella Alleyne-
After a visit to the infant s family home
at Betsy Street, La Romaine, yesterday,
Alleyne-Toppin said Kimora s death was
one that she would never forget.
Dispelling rumours on social media that
there was something spiritual claiming the
lives of children, Alleyne-Toppin said some-
times unexplainable incidents occur.
"It is very unfortunate, very sad and you
never know, therefore we say it is by the
grace of God. I never know what will hap-
pen because I was brought up to say God
is in charge.
"We cannot understand why some things
happen, we just have to find a way to find
peace in the promise of our Saviour.
"I have gone to so many of these for the
past two months and it is to me, something
that tears my heart but I cannot attribute
it to any other factor.
"I can say, however, that we must pray
and however much you can pray and how-
ever vigilant you can be, sometimes things
come and we do not understand," Alleyne
She said despite the spate of child deaths,
she believed T&T was a prayerful nation
for if it was not no one could tell what
would have happened.
She said her visit came as an order by
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as
the Government sympathised with family
members during their grief.
After learning of Kimora s death Monday
night, she said she was determined to pro-
vide support for the family.
Two counsellors accompanied her to the
home where she met the girl s parents---
Ronan Millette and Marsha Carabana---and
other relatives to provide bereavement
Alleyne-Toppin said her ministry was
providing meals for Kimora s wake and
financial support for the funeral.
Even the room that was destroyed by
fire would be restored by the National
Social Development Programme (NSDP),
"We also are going to use our NSDP to
refurbish the burnt-out room and to make
it look as bright as possible and to bring
back a good feeling.
"Whatever we can do from the Ministry
of the People, with respect to replacing
books and uniforms and all of those
things... furniture, furnishing and appli-
ances... whatever was lost in the fire, we
As preparations were being made for her
funeral at 2 pm on Saturday, Kimora s home
was filled with relatives and friends
expressing condolences to the family.
Carabana, who became ill after learning
of the child s death, said it was too much
grief to speak of the death.
Kimora death came shortly after 8 am
as she and her twin sister, Kiara, were in
a bedroom watching television. They were
awaiting their school bus to take them to
their Head Start Pre-school at Pond Street.
Police said as their grandmother, Brenda
Millette, tended to a customer at their par-
lour, Kiara ran out the room and alerted
them of the fire.
Although neighbours managed to put
out the fire with a bucket brigade, Kimora s
remains were found at the bedside. Autopsy
results showed she died of smoke and soot
An inter-ministerial team has been appoint-
ed by Government to develop effective policies
necessary for the protection of the nation s
This comes on the heels of the deaths of 25
children from January to June, the most recent
being the death of four-year-old Kimora Millette
who was burnt to death at he home at Betsy
Street, Potato Trace, La Romain.
Yesterday Gender, Youth and Child Devel-
opment Minister Clifton De Coteau, addressing
the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing at the
San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Chancery
Lane, San Fernando, opened his statement with
condolences to the families of the 25 children,
declaring that too many children have died.
He said his ministry had provided grief coun-
selling to all the families impacted by the loss
of a child.
De Coteau said the Government had accepted
that a collaborative process was needed to
address the deaths of children in T&T.
He said his ministry would chair an inter-
minsterial team, which would include the Health,
Community Development and National Security
ministries on child protection.
"The team," he said, "will be responsible for
formulating policies effective to the protection
of children. We understand that the effective
protection of children requires a multi-disci-
plinary, multi-sectoral approach."
That effort, he said, would also see collab-
oration between Government, families and other
He said it was critical that there were systems
and mechanisms that provided meaningful and
long-term protection for children.
The national parenting programme, he said,
would be expanded.
He added: "We realise that we have accepted,
taken it for granted that the parents are aware
of their responsibilities and that they are aware
of what should be done.
"We have some programmes (such as the)...
do you know where your child is? Probably we
have to come up with another one... keep an
eye on your child programme."
He said many times children were seen being
allowed to run freely at the mall or on the beach
without parental supervision.
"How many of you have attended concerts
and mass gatherings and find the master of
ceremonies coming on stage asking if you recog-
nise this child?" he asked.
He said only when something happened one
was quick to blame. Parents, he said, must
change the mindset that "it will happen to the
other person child and not mine."
De Coteau announced that $20 million has
been allocated by Cabinet for hosting of Inter-
national Year of the Family celebrations which
would include various activities at all ministries
and a national symposium on the family.
He said $7.1 million would be used for public
The minister said a two-week retreat has
been approved for girls housed at the St Jude s
Home for Girls to assist in their rehabilitation.
He said the police, Defence Force, Cadet Force
and the Health Ministry would participate in
The 61 girls at St Jude s, he said, would also
be exposed to guidance officers who would liaise
with them as well as their care-givers.
That, he said, was a short-term strategic
intervention for the girls after complaints and
violations. (See Page A8)
A month after being shot while in a taxi
in Carenage, four-year-old Sarah Headley
is asking her grandmother when she will
get her eye back.
The child lost sight in her right eye despite
having surgery at the Eric Williams Medical
Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.
Yesterday, Sarah smiled with photographers
and reporters but her mother, Alisha, and
grandmother, Arleen Felix, say the child s
moods have been erratic since her surgery.
"She cries a lot and sometimes she gets
very serious and doesn t respond to us. She
will smile now-and-again but her main feel-
ing now is sadness," Felix told reporters.
Minister in the Ministry of the People and
Social Development Vernella Toppin-Alleyne
has promised to ensure the child and her
family receive counselling, considering the
drastic mood swings she had been experi-
Toppin-Alleyne, who visited the family s
Carenage home on behalf of Prime Minister
and Minister of the People Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, brought a hamper for the child
and a food card for Alisha.
She said the ministry would offer food
support as Sarah s mother was no longer
employed, choosing to stay home to care for
her daughter. The ministry will also assist
the family with any necessary house repairs
to make Sarah comfortable.
"We will give food support until school
opens in September at which time we will
help with school supplies and school uni-
"We will offer whatever the family needs
that the ministry can give. We brought a gift
hamper for little Sarah so she can have some
joy to replace the pain. She has had a lot of
pain since this accident," Toppin-Alleyne
The bullet which entered Sarah s head,
passing between her eyes before lodging in
her neck, is still in her body. While her mother
is fearful because of this, doctors have refused
to remove the bullet as its position near a
major artery they said it was dangerous to
Toppin-Alleyne said the ministry would
try to engage specialists to assess the child
and would make the Children s Life Fund
available if it was necessary to send her for
surgery outside T&T.
She acknowledged that there had been
several cases of young children being hurt
or killed recently and said the Child Protection
Task Force, of which she was a member, had
been working on several recommendations.
She said those recommendations would
look at legislation to make parents more
accountable and fathers and mothers would
be held more financially responsible for their
Shot tot still hoping
to get back her eye
Team set up to
work on policies
to protect children
T&T needs prayers
Minister on death of girl, 4
Arlen Felix plays with her granddaughter, Sarah Headley, at the family's home at Upper
L'Anse Mitan Road, Carenage, yesterday. Sarah was shot in the forehead on May 20 when
a gunman opened fire at a car in which she and her mother were passengers.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Links Archive June 18th 2014 June 20th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page