Teen be­moans loss of sen­ti­men­tal pho­tos in fire

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIO­NAL - Karen Oliver/Gleaner In­tern karen.oliver@glean­erjm.com

WATCH­ING YOUR house be­ing de­stroyed by fire is al­ways a heartwrenc­h­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but los­ing fam­ily heir­looms like pho­tographs or col­lec­tor’s items can be just as painful.

That’s the ex­pe­ri­ence of 18-yearold Asheika Townsend, an up­per-sixth-form stu­dent at the Con­vent of Mercy Acad­emy (Al­pha), whose home was one of sev­eral that went up in flames on Rum Lane, down­town Kingston, on May 27. Thirty-four per­sons were left dis­placed.

Among her losses were photo al­bums.

“I lost 18 years of child­hood mem­o­ries,” she be­moaned.

Her most prized pho­to­graph of her tak­ing her first step is gone for­ever.

“I will only have to re­mem­ber it in my head from now on,” she said.

The de­tails of the photo are vivid in her mind. She had glee on her face and was wear­ing a jeans suit, a white blouse, and sev­eral gold ban­gles, while her beam­ing fa­ther, who was hold­ing on to her hand, was dressed in a red-and-yel­low shirt. The photo was cap­tured in front of a what­not with pep­per lights in the back­ground.

Sim­i­larly, pho­tos of her high-school grad­u­a­tion are all de­stroyed.

“My grad­u­a­tion pic­tures rep­re­sented the fi­nan­cial and emo­tional strug­gles in high school and how I tri­umphed,” she ex­plained, adding that she grad­u­ated with 11 Car­ib­bean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate sub­jects: six grade ones, four grade twos, and a grade three in math­e­mat­ics. She sub­se­quently ob­tained four Unit One Car­ib­bean Ad­vanced Pro­fi­ciency Ex­am­i­na­tion (CAPE) sub­jects.


As well as the loss of the pho­tographs, leav­ing her heart­bro­ken is the loss of a pair of tat­tered shoes that she wore in sec­ond form and was keep­ing as a sou­venir.

“It rep­re­sented the fi­nan­cial strug­gles I went through while go­ing to school. The bot­tom of the shoes was com­pletely gone, and I used a piece of card­board as an in­sole.

I was sav­ing them as a sym­bol of in­spi­ra­tion to show oth­ers who are go­ing through fi­nan­cial chal­lenges that they can step out be­cause I, too, have taken that step,” she pointed out.

“I’m a very sen­ti­men­tal per­son. I don’t have things that have a lot of mon­e­tary value, so the things I have around me hold a lot of value to me. I use them to mo­ti­vate me.”

Townsend, who rep­re­sented Ja­maica at the World Fed­er­a­tion of United Na­tions As­so­ci­a­tion In­ter­na­tional Model United Na­tions Con­fer­ence in Man­hat­tan ear­lier this year and last year, is try­ing to keep fo­cused as she pre­pares for her Unit Two CAPE ex­ams in July.

It’s hard, but I’ll get over it. In­stead of cry­ing, I’m us­ing it to push me for­ward. If I can over­come this, I can over­come any­thing else,” she main­tains.


Asheika Townsend tries to com­fort her mother, Ve­nese Townsend, af­ter fire de­stroyed their home at Rum Lane, Kingston, last month.

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