The Mahdia tragedy is a national tragedy – time for Mahdia Strong, Guyana Strong

Our country has been called upon again to face adversity and tragedy. The death of 19 children in a fire in a dormitory in Mahdia is a national tragedy. The pain and suffering of the families in Region Eight are horrendous and while we can all give our prayers and our love, we all cannot feel the same pain. Yet, this is a national tragedy and we all feel the pain in one way or another. One thing is certain at this time, all of us wish this tragedy never happened, all of us share the pain that the families who have lost loved ones are feeling right now. WE all want to ensure that every bit of support that the families need they will get. A nation, a national family have been touched with tragedy and we are called upon to respond as a nation, together.
I saw a president with tears in his eyes. I saw the pain in his face. But I also saw a president who could not be helpless. The families in Mahdia and the nation needed him to lead and that is exactly what he did. While he mourned, he did not shirk his responsibility. He and his Government, he and all the relevant agencies were mobilised and have stood strong. The Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force, the aviation industry, the Private Sector, ordinary citizens have come out to support. This is the time for Mahdia, Region Eight and Guyana to stand strong. We are Mahdia Strong. We are Guyana Strong. WE will overcome.
Nineteen beautiful children, nineteen beautiful souls were lost. We will never replace these souls. Nineteen bright smiles were snuffed away from us in a moment. Our grief will last for a long time. For the families their grief will last forever. But we are a country built on strong faith. Our faith will get us through this tragedy. We pray these children will be in the arms of God. We pray that their families will be given the strength to carry on.
Inevitably, there are always small groups who would utilise a national tragedy to fulfil their own agendas. We should not be distracted at this time by that small group that will use this tragedy to further their own selfish agendas. It does not mean we should not learn from the tragedy so that another of its kind never occurs again. But this country is made up of good people. For sure, we have smart people with different viewpoints and different ideas. We have faced enormous national challenges before. Just as we overcome the many challenges before, we will remain resolute and strong and we will move on stronger than we were before this latest tragedy.
Let us not mistake, this tragedy is unlike many we have faced before. The immediate task before us is to ensure the families affected are given the absolute maximum support. Our President and his team have instructed that no effort or money should be spared in ensuring that all immediate needs of the affected families are provided. The health team, the ministries of education and human services, other ministries, have deployed fully for this effort.
The Government has committed immediate, short-term, medium-term and long-term support for the families. For immediate support, President Irfaan Ali, in a visit to Mahdia, establish a Technical and Recovery Support Task Force headed by the Chief-of-Staff. President Ali is totally focused on ensuring that the families and that the Mahdia and Region Eight communities recover from this tragedy. He personally is holding hands to ensure that this happens. In the face of tragedy, our President and our country are showing resilience and strength.
Around 2001/2002, an accident in Region Six took 17 lives. We have had the Lusignan and Bartica Massacres. These and others before them were tragedies that we had to cope with. We have overcome these tragedies, but we have not forgotten them. We have grown stronger through them. Still, we must as a nation hold hands and join hearts together to ensure that we never have to face a tragedy like Mahdia again.
Our prayers are with the families in the Mahdia tragedy. Our prayers are with Mahdia and Region Eight. Our prayers are with our President and country. We will not be distracted by those whose misguided business is to use tragedies to sow division. We will focus on the families who need help. WE will focus on staying strong. This is the time to proclaim Mahdia Strong, Guyana Strong.