This close-knit community from West Africa, most with connections to the tiny country of Gambia, felt as one as they once again tried to make sense of the tragic Bronx fire with its thick suffocating smoke leaving 17 dead, including 8 children.
The dead ranged in age from 2 to 50. Entire families were killed, including a family of five. Others would leave behind orphaned children.
Fiften caskets lined the front of the prayer hall. Some were no bigger than small coffee tables, containing the bodies of the youngest souls who died.
“This is a sad situation. But everything comes from God. Tragedies always happen, we just thank Allah that we can all come together,” said Haji Dukuray, the uncle of Haja Dukuray, who died with three of her children and her husband.
Earlier in the week, burial services were held for two children at a mosque in Harlem.
After Sunday’s services in New York City, 11 caskets were to be transported to a cemetery in New Jersey for burial. Four of the victims were expected to be repatriated to Gambia, as requested by their families, a Gambian government official attending the service said.
Because of the magnitude of the tragedy, funeral organizers insisted on a public funeral to bring attention to the plight of immigrant families across New York City.