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Candle ceremony in Lavender Hill honours lives of those lost to gang violence

Lavender Hill's "Restoring Hope For Our Future Leaders" candle ceremony. Woman comfort each other as they hold pictures of family lost to violence. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Lavender Hill's "Restoring Hope For Our Future Leaders" candle ceremony. Woman comfort each other as they hold pictures of family lost to violence. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 7, 2022

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Cape Town - Dealing with loss of life is never easy and Carmen Jenkins from Lavender Hill had to do that in one of the most difficult ways when she lost her son Waylin Diterich, 20, to gang violence.

As a result, she had been looking for a way to not only help herself to heal, but to help families and friends who lost loved ones due to traumatic deaths.

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She reached out to Mark Nicholson, and together they co-ordinated a candle ceremony event, called Restoring Hope For Our Future Leaders at Blode Street in Lavender Hill.

The event marked three months since her son’s death and she wanted to do something to honour his life.

“Mark and I met on Facebook and I tracked all the work he had been doing. After the passing of my son, Mark helped me with a lot of words of encouragement. We wanted to do a memorial service for him, and in honour of kids passing away from traumatic deaths such as gang violence and suicide.”

Nicholson and Jenkins both gave their comments on the response and support the event received.

“The event took roughly one month of planning and was a commemoration of lives lost. We wanted to highlight the plight of trauma, especially for traumatic deaths.

“We had spiritual dancers, motivational speakers and a lot of tears were shed. The event was an opportunity for people to get closer to each other and heal,” Nicholson said.

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“There was an amazing response. Carmen and the gang he (Waylin) was in helped us out. Everything was done by the book and we served 280 meals for the people and 140 party packs for the kids at the event.”

Lavender Hill's "Restoring Hope For Our Future Leaders" candle ceremony. A child weeps for the loss of the father who was shot and killed a few years ago. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Lavender Hill's "Restoring Hope For Our Future Leaders" candle ceremony. A child weeps for the loss of the father who was shot and killed a few years ago. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Jenkins followed by saying: “It was unbelievable. I didn’t expect it to be that special and successful. Our aim was to raise awareness on the seriousness of gang violence and gangsterism”

The event marks the start of many more to help people in communities that suffer from gang violence to deal with their traumas and to help communities bond and get closer with each other through these hardships.

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Nicholson’s new initiative is called the Rise Above Development Youth Centre that will give kids and young adults a place to be rather than staying on the streets and illegal activities.

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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