By Latrishka Thomas
To two 13-year-olds, it was a simple selfless act, but to many others it was an act of great heroism.
On February 8, 2021, Silence Manyaka and Demetri Brown rescued two toddlers from a house fire in Cashew Hill.
During a brief ceremony at Government House, yesterday, the two young superheroes received the Halo Hero Humanitarian Medal from Governor General Sir Rodney Williams for exercising courage in extreme danger.
Manyaka who is a second former at the Ottos Comprehensive School, told Observer that he was both elated and grateful to have received such a remarkable honour,” he said. “I feel very good. I got a lot of respect, like ‘keep up the good work, I’m proud of you’. They say I made history in the family.”
Brown, a Grade 5 student at Sunnydale Primary School, shared similar sentiments saying, “I’m feeling great. I am very thankful for it.”
They also encouraged other young people to be brave and compassionate.
“It’s good to be kind to other people,” Brown remarked.
“Go ahead, you can do it! If I can do it, you can do it too!” Manyaka exclaimed as he urged other youngsters to be fearless.
President of the Halo Foundation, Her Excellency Sandra Lady Williams spoke on the achievement saying: “Prior to [yesterday], there have been 15 awardees of the Halo Hero Humanitarian Award at the Secondary and Tertiary levels. This is the first time that an award has been bestowed upon a primary school student, and it is extremely encouraging to see such fearless commitment to service at such a tender age. If this type of positive action prevails, we can look forward to the strengthening of our nation by young people who are not only smart and highly skilled, but also kind and considerate.”
According to reports, on the day of the incident, the woman who was caring for four children in the house noticed a fire but was only able to grab two of the children before running to a nearby house.
The two teenagers, who happened to be passing by, immediately sprang into action and rescued the two young children who were said to be between the ages of one and four.
Manyaka said that he saw Brown going to the rescue of one child and acted swiftly to make sure the other was also saved.
“My friend already got burned up in a fire and died so I did not want to see that happen again,” he explained.