Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

The death of a family member is always a hard pill to swallow, but especially for a parent who is preceded in death by a child. This past week, two immigrant parents were forced to face this tough reality that some refer to as “vilomah,” a Sanskrit word that is gaining acceptance to describe a parent who has lost a child. It means “against a natural order”— that a child is supposed to bury a parent, not the other way around. 

On Saturday, May 20, the Guinea parents of Alfa Barrie, 11, who had held out hope that their son would be found alive, had to face the reality that Alfa was gone—snatched away, it seems, by the waters of the Hudson River. 

Alfa disappeared with his friend Garrett Warren, 13, over a week ago. His body was recovered in the waters off Manhattan, according to the NYPD. 

The finding marked more than a week of prayers, searches, and hope that Alfa, who lived in the Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx and was last seen on May 12, would be found safe and sound. Fatoumata Diallo, his mother, had only one message for the community last week, according to Africa In Harlem: “Help me find my son. I miss my son. My kids miss my son.”

Sadly, that was not to be. His body was recovered from the Hudson River at West 102nd Street. An autopsy is expected to be conducted to determine his cause of death.

Another immigrant family mourning a child is the Honduran family of Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez. On Wednesday, May 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) announced that Anadith had “experienced a medical emergency” while at a CPB facility with her family. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to a CBP news release. The release added the agency is conducting an investigation and has notified the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the Harlingen Police Department.

The child’s parents have been released from immigration custody and will be headed to New York to meet up with family, the Honduran Foreign Ministry told CNN, to await a complete autopsy and ideally some closure. 

With these deaths also comes the economic task of burial rites “back home.” It’s an expensive proposition and additional burden for many immigrant families who are already struggling to get by. 

A GoFundMe has been set up for Alfa’s funeral at https://www.gofundme.com/f/11-year-old-alfa-barrie-funeral. It has already raised $39,693 of its $100,000 target. Anadith’s family has not asked for support to date, but I’m sure they will need it. 

Life will never be the same for these parents. As you go about your life this week, please spare a thought and a prayer for the families of Alfa and Anadith. They will certainly need all the love and light they can get at this time of great testing.The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News. She can be reached at felicia@caribpr.com.

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