Up in flames

Dec 17, 2013

Gail Browne and two of her children pose outside her new home.

Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to fathom the despair a family feels after losing your home to a fire. But Gail Browne knows.

In 2011, the single mother of six children, was left homeless when fire destroyed her house. In the following years, she kept her family together, moving from house to house as they were able.

Browne and her children now live in a new home built for them by the Kiwanis Club of Barbados-Central, but her memories of those difficult days give insights into the struggles families face when touched by tragedy.

"When the fire happened, my main priority was to provide shelter and some sense of security for the children, since they are between the toddler and teen-age stage," says Browne. "But as the incident settled in, I was distraught thinking about clothing, school supplies and where to turn for help.

“Then I knew I needed a psychological intervention because of the disbelief and pain that suddenly overcame me. And the children had to adapt to a change in environment, having to adjust to sharing their personal items with each other to make ends meet and attaining some feeling of comfort." — Shanna Mooney