Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fire at Budo Junior, and a pastoral response

I have no idea if the news reached the States about the absolutely horrific fire that happened last Monday at Budo Junior Primary School, a very exclusive boarding school here. Bay Area folks, think Head-Royce-type reputation, only more so. I'm not clear on the details, but no one seems to be. Was there arson? Possibly. Were the doors to the dorm locked so the girls couldn't get out? Probably. Were the security guards watching the football match? Very likely. Where was the matron? No one is sure. Did someone keep those trying to help get the girls out from entering the school grounds? Reportedly. And what happened to all the school fees, since teachers haven't been paid in six months? A very good question.

With all of this, though, the fact remains that 19 girls were burned to death in their dormitory last Monday night, all but one beyond recognition. They had to do DNA testing on the remains before releasing them to the parents. It's beyind horrible. One of the girls died after pulling out several others and going in for more. Another tried to get her twin sister to leave the dorm, but she refused, saying, "Let me sleep." Stories keep emerging along with a lot of opinions, but no real answers.

This morning at church (All Saints, Nakasero), the vicar had 20 roses for the girls who had been killed (was it 20 or just 19? That's another question). She invited anyone with a connection to Budo, or simply if they wished, to come forward and take a rose as she read a poem in memory of the girls who had died; then we all sang a song. It was devastating; certainly I was crying. I can't imagine how one could handle something like this any better.

Below, I am copying the poem the vicar read (and possibly wrote; there was no author), which is quite long, but I think worth sharing with you. Please pray for those who died in the fire at Budo Junior and for their families.

To all Budo Junior Parents who lost their children

I Lost My Child

I lost my child today
People came from far and wide
Horror stricken to weep and cry
As I just sat and stared, dry eyed
They struggled to find words to say
To make the pain go away
I walked away in disbelief
I lost my child today

I lost my child on Monday
People came and went away
Some still call some still stay
I wait to wake up from this dream
This can't be real I want to scream
Yet everything is locked inside
God help me I want to die
I lost my little one on Monday

Six days ago I lost my child
The anger rages like high tide
I sit and struggle all day long
To bear the pain so deep so strong
My friends do not know how to soothe
They say a prayer and share a psalm
But nothing seems to bring me calm
Last week I lost my child

20 daughters lost one by one
The joy, the laughter, the giggles, the fun
All lost in one raging horror
All I hear is blame, blame, blame
The song is the same, as is the fear
Questions, vengeance and pursuit for answers
How on earth can we keep the balance?

Can someone stop, can someone hear
The still small voice rising up through the anguish
Up through the gloom, up through the darkness
Listen, my child I am here
Do not be afraid I am near

We lost our precious child this week
From the heavens I bow down and weep
An act so vile, repugnant to the skies
My heart is wounded for every child

Yet all is not lost
For she is a precious gift to you
Lived not in vain

Even though there is still doubt and pain
Anger, fury, guilt and rage

For the time she was for you to hold
The love you shared more precious than gold
Stronger than death, longer than life
May it live on above the turmoil & strife

Her fatal and unfortunate end
Shall however
Never upstage her beautiful smile, her laughter
Her charm, her dreams, her passion, her life
The magnitude of who she was yet so young
Let her memory still live within me
And I shall cherish it till my time
And I hold no grudge for this treacherous crime

And so for the sake of her who brought great joy
Do not despair overcome by grief
For to die inside is a worse defeat
Peace choked by anger
Joy extinguished by grief
Her gift to us must not be lost
Let this instead, be your prayer
When doubts fill your mind

When fears assail
Father O Father quieten my soul
Be so real, present in my loss
Strengthen my faith, help me bear this cross
And Father please at the end of each day
Help me remember the love not the pain

1 comment:

qoe said...

God grant them rest, and may we all be granted the peace that will transform our hearts and minds and actions, so that such horrors will no more be perpetrated. Amen.