Sorrowful Secret Garden to be expanded for more names of slain children

The Secret Gardens, a sorrowful monument erected in 2008 in downtown Kingston to record the names of children killed under tragic circumstancess, but which ran out of space in 2017, is to be extended for a necessary but unwanted cause — additional names to be added.

The monument located at the intersection of Church and Tower streets was the orginal brainchild of the then Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, now Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, with support from corporate Jamaica. Designed by sculptor, Paul Napier, it sits in a small green space bearing names of children who died violently since 2004.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer yesterday following a very socially distanced annual service, organised by the municipal corporation to mark the beginning of Child Month (May 1), Town Clerk Robert Hill outlined the expansion plans.

“It is unfortunate that we have run out of space and also have the arduous task of making plans to add more names to the monument. There is a plan afoot, in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), to look at the capacity that is there and to extend the wall,” Hill said.

“I hope it will not go beyond the intersection of King and Tower Street, it should go right to the corner where Water Lane intersects Tower Street,” Hill explained further.

He was, however, unable to give a definite time for those plans to be executed.

“That again is driven by strategy and budget. I cannot indicate a time, but somewhere in the near future it should be initiated so we can begin to prepare the wall surface, get the names and each name has a circumstance that we have to inscribe. It is very, very difficult, we can’t separate ourselves from the reality that it brings to us, but at the same time it is a reality that we have to face.

It is one of those things that makes the job difficult, but it is something we have to do,” he told the Observer.

He was also unaware of the number of names already there and those to be added dating back to 2017 when the wall was overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor of Kingston Councillor Winston Ennis urged Jamaicans to do better in caring for the nation’s children. “I would like to say to the parents who have lost their children that it is a sad day, but keep faith, believe in God.

“This monument is for the remembrance of the atrocities committed against our children. And I want to say to the people of Jamaica, remember to protect the young ones, the children, they are the future, and if we show them love, then Jamaica will be, in a better place in a few years time,” he said.

For Acting Youth Mayor Reajean Bennett, who also participated in the wreath-laying exercise, the task was a difficult one.

“It’s never easy being in a context such as this; it was definitely difficult. I would rather be here together with some children — although with the pandemic we can’t — but to really celebrate them and have them laughing, smiling, but not to celebrate death, definitely not ,” the 17-year-old told the Observer.

“I saw it fit to say a word of prayer, the song playing in the background is appropriate and touching,” she noted.

The monument bears a mournful image of a child’s head, with silver tears running down the cheeks. It sits on a black square base into which the names of the children are inscribed.

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