Who is Responsible for your Child’s safety? The Villaggio Tragedy

What is the price you put on a child’s life?

For a country that was recently touted to be have a Multi-billion dollar investment in education, as well as  launching the WISE prize last year, worth $500,000, a Qatari Nobel prize for education endeavor (link) the price of children’s safety is not taken into consideration.

The truth about the tragic events that took place at Villaggio Mall in Qatar are more gruesome than initially understood, as if the death of 13 children was not heart wrenching enough (link):

The inferno at Doha’s Villagio mall on Monday killed 19 foreigners, including 13 children, four teachers, and the two firemen. The authorities have ordered that the mall owner and four other senior mall staff be arrested, reports said.

As smoke and flames surrounded the nursery, two of the four teachers sent farewell text messages and made their final calls to family letting them know they would not be coming home.

“I’m dying,” one of the three Filipino teachers trapped in the fire told her aunt in a text message before she succumbed, according to Marilyn Evangelista, the victim’s friend interviewed on the Al Jazeera English television channel.

Another teacher, also from the Philippines, called her husband to tell him that she and the children were “trapped, the smoke is too thick,” according to Evangelista who then broke down in tears.

Citing an unnamed official from Qatar’s Ministry of Social Affairs, the influential local daily, Al-Raya, said the Gympanzee nursery on the first floor of the mall where all 19 victims suffocated to death was “not licensed.”

local and international media networks cited witnesses claiming that some of the sprinklers in the mall malfunctioned and fire exit doors were locked.

The deaths drove hundreds of both Qatari and foreign nationals to a vigil in Aspire park near the partially destroyed Villagio late Tuesday as mourners lit candles and posted notes in honour of the fallen victims and their grieving families. In attendance were Jane and Martin Weekes, parents of the New Zealand triplets whose pictures were plastered across newspapers in the Gulf on Wednesday. Consoled by friends, the grieving parents wept, clutching their childrens’ toys in their hands.

“Lillie, Jackson and Willsher came into this world together and were inseparable as siblings, best friends and the joy of our life,” the couple said in a statement.

“Tragically they left together after only two short years. A time that was lived to the full everyday with us laughing, playing, waking us at all hours of the night and simply being the sunshine in our world.”—

These terrible, tragic events that transpired in Qatar have raised serious questions as to responsibility and parents on a global scale.

No parent should ever go through the pain of losing their infant child, least of all after leaving them in the care of seeming professionals, in an upscale mall, where they are under the impression that their child’s safety is paramount. They were sadly, sadly, mistaken. It is the pinnacle of unfair that they pay for the mistakes of others in such a manner.

Is it ever really possible to trust the safety of your loved ones to strangers? Bearing in mind that the world is as random as random comes, so many things can happen that you do not even plan for in the slightest of ways.

Take for example a tragedy that happened in Kuwait; a man working in Kuwait finds a job for his brother who is living abroad, he brings his brother over, the brother is processing his papers to finalize the job, the office tells him to come back in an hour, as he is walking around the office to kill time, he is hit by a car and passes away on the spot.

Yes. That happened right here in Kuwait. And yes, it happened to someone I know.

If one is to sit down and think of every worst possible scenario that can occur, they would never leave their house, or allow their loved ones to leave the house either. We would become a nation of cave dwellers, suspicious of any and all who approach us requesting assistance or aid.

That is not the way to live.

However, on the same note, going by the belief that everything will be ok and everyone is doing their utmost to preserve both their safety as well as that of those around them, is a false assumption.

Villagio Mall was no run-of-the-mill mall; it had plenty of luxury brands inside, and a Gondola ride reminiscent of Venice.

How could the safety of children, CHILDREN! be put on the back seat in favor of profits? How could such a facility not be properly equipped to handle a fire? How could people scamper for their own lives whilst leaving children behind?

In other news, the parents of six children who died in a house fire in Derby have been charged with their murders and are due to appear in court. Jade Philpott, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jessie, six and Jayden, five, died in a house fire on Victory Road on 11 May. (link)

These tragic events give us a clear moment of pondering, how can we guarantee the safety of our loved ones?

And the answer is; we cannot.

There is an urban myth that is widely retold amongst the masses, it tells of how a frantic mother whose son was travelling by plane was worried as to the weather that day. Her son went to sleep and asked his mother to wake him up for his flight. She did not wake him up. And as is true in most cases of mother’s intuition, the weather caused the plane to crash. When she went to wake her son up, in an almost Final Destination-esque twist of fate, she found him to have died in his sleep. Whether this tale holds any merit is not for me to answer, however the idea behind it is, we are all pawns on a chessboard, every step is predetermined in the greater scheme of things.

Can we protect ourselves from all the dangers in the world? Short of living in seclusion, the answer is no.

Can accidents happen? Yes.

Can we prevent them? We can attempt to.


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