By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
In the aftermath of a fire that gutted a section of the Davis family home which housed three children in Huntums Ghut, Fire Officer Cuthbert Robinson knew he had to help.
Whipping himself into action, Officer Robinson rallied his colleagues and was able to donate school supplies to the Davis children whose belongings perished in the August 4 blaze.
He told BVI News he thought to assist the family immediately after he and a team of other officers responded at the scene and extinguished the 8 pm fire.
“I had a major concern [becuase] I am a family man and a father of seven. And as fire officers, you get to save the public. So on my return to the station with my team, while we were debriefing, I brought up the idea to come together and purchase the school supplies. The team was very much involved in seeing it happen. So we collected donations among the officers and made it possible,” Officer Robinson told our news centre.
Davis family grateful
Marcel Davis, a husband and father of three — two daughters and a son — told BVI News he was “very surprised” when he discovered what the officers had in store for his family.
“It was overwhelming because a lot of people calling me now. Before it was publicized, a lot of people didn’t know about it. So a lot of people calling and extending their sympathies. … The day after the fire, they came and did a report and Mr Robinson was there and he mentioned how hard it is to start school back again for children considering the loss. He gave his sympathy but he never really told me that he wanted to do something then,” said Davis, who is a teacher at the Elmore Stoutt High School.
“Later on he told me he wanted to do something concerning it and asked if I could go to the book store and a get a quotation for all the books and anything that they need. I took it (the quotation) to the fire station and they dealt with it. They would add some bookbags and exercise books and so forth and he did what he had to do. My entire family and I are very grateful for the gesture.”
Colleagues, friends chip in to assist with accommodations
Davis said his family has also been receiving support from friends and colleagues who have offered the family temporary accommodations while they house hunt.
“That same night, I moved by a friend — another teacher. I spent the night there. Another friend, Mr Johnson who is in the States heard about it that same night and told me to go and collect his keys to his apartment and I moved the next day to his apartment where I stayed for 12 days.”
He continued: “I was looking for a place to try to get somewhere to stay because you know things are difficult, but fortunately a next friend told somebody else and she called me and gave me her place and told me I could stay there until I find somewhere else to rent, which was good because beds and everything else was there already. Things are working out in my favour and I have a lot of support especially from my neighbours around here, landlord, everybody.”
Remember the trauma
Recalling the ill-fated night of the fire, Davis said he had left the family home to take his children to the Road Town festival grounds.
“We went to go on the rides … so while I was there I received a call from a neighbour stating that smoke was coming from the apartment. I had left my wife alone at home sleeping. She was sleeping in the living room area outside when we left. When I came, I met the firemen engaged in the fire and they had things under control,” Davis stated.
“I lost everything in the bedroom area … and most of the children’s supplies [were destroyed].”
Children afraid of becoming homeless
While the incident would have taken place some weeks ago and no-one was harmed, it still remains fresh in the minds of the family of five.
Davis told BVI News memory of the fire is enough to evoke momentary feelings of fear within the family.
“It’s like every time you go to bed and try to wake up you look around and just try to make sure that everything is ok and something like this doesn’t happen again, so we are a little sceptical about certain things,” Davis stated.
“One thing the children were speaking about is that they are scared of being homeless because they asked the question: ‘Dad, when we move from here, will we be homeless?’ I said no,” he shared.
Still in search of a permanent home
The family, which is currently occupying a temporary apartment in a West End community, is still in search of a permanent apartment.