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Farewells for second murdered schoolboy
Archbishop Joseph Harris yesterday urged the people of Laventille to turn away from violence. He said it would only exacerbate and deepen the circle of violence. He also called on the Government to take seriously the reform of the education system in this country, in a bid to turn around the worsening crime situation, not only in Laventille but other areas of T&T.
The Archbishop was speaking at the funeral service of murdered schoolboy, De-Neilson Smith, who was gunned down along with his friend, Mark Richards, while they were on their way home last week Thursday.
“Our response to this atrocity is that parents must begin to bring up children well. Hard work never killed anybody. Send your children to school and ensure that they go. Demand that they do homework, ensure that they learn to do something. They are all very gifted. Help them to discover their gifts, which they can make a contribution to society,” Harris said.
There was a large turnout of mourners at Smith’s funeral. His schoolmates were seen hugging each other and crying uncontrollably. One boy was seen holding on to the principal of Success Laventille Secondary School, Hamida Baksh. He was inconsolable. Smith was described as a mentor, captain, friend, colleague and brother by some of the members of the school’s cricket team.
“Whenever we were going wrong, De-Neil corrected us. He would always cheer us up. He will be missed tremendously,” a young school cricketer said.
As Smith’s coffin was being carried down the steps of the Our Lady of Laventille Fatima Shrine, Smith’s teammates bid him farewell by forming a Guard of Honour.
Military patrols not enough
Harris had strong words for the Ministry of National Security, saying that police and army patrols were not enough.
He said they had to implement programmes that would instil discipline among young men and women.
Archbishop Harris asked whether the police and army couldn’t instead run scout troops and the cadet corps to teach discipline, give a sense of self-worth and nurture the sense and inclination to do good that our young people have within them.
“Those in charge should take seriously the need to provide for different learning styles and attitudes because we will continue to produce young men and women who are functional illiterates and have nothing to do because the system does not prepare them to make a contribution to society,” Harris said.
He added that he believes that this deepens an inferiority complex.
“They would have nothing to show that they are men. They mistake fear for respect so they carry guns half their size because they believe that carrying guns and frightening people makes them men,” he added.
Harris said there was dire need to have leaders in Laventille who will be peacemakers and help nurture and encourage harmony to flow once more in Laventille, which was referred to as the Holy Hill long ago because of the Our Lady of Laventille shrine that stands in the church’s yard.
“Mary, mother of God, would have seen the unjust and the senseless killing of De-Neil and Mark at the foot of the shrine of Our Lady of Laventille.
“How Mary must have wept to see so many of her children die senselessly in this place dedicated in her memory,” Harris said.