Ton Bar’s funeral service has not been the same since the beginning of the pandemic.
Prior to that, he said he rarely made funds for victims of gun violence.
Nowadays, most of his clients are families whose relatives have been shot. Many of them are teenagers, including people he knows from his West Philadelphia area.
“Our profession is to make money, but I don’t like it when I hide small children. When I look at the casket, I see a 13-year-old and grieving mother my age who has to bury her son, ”said Bar, funeral director of the funeral home Harriest Crowley and community relations director of the Philadelphia Masjid in the Mil Creek area.
Six months ago, as Philadelphia went on to record its deadliest year in history, the emotional pledge of Bar’s work caught up with him.
He had to do something for Philadelphia residents who suffered from gun violence.
On Sunday, with the support of grassroots organizations and elected officials, the fruits of this seed were demonstrated during the first-ever Peace Day, a free all-day event dedicated to peace and recovery.
The event, organized by the newly formed Philly United As 1 community group, offered residents individual counseling on grief as well as workshops on trauma and forgiveness. There was also a clinic for cleaning and yoga classes, as well as a carnival for children, free haircuts and food.
During the rapporteur’s brief program, Philadelphia Attorney General Larry Krasner urged those present to vote against gun candidates during Tuesday’s primary election. City Councilman Curtis Jones, representing parts of West Philly, stressed the need to teach people conflict resolution skills.
For Bar, the goal of the day was to cultivate solidarity.
“Discard petty grievances. Remove the fine beef. And get together and share resources, ”Bar said.
Haria Murray almost missed the event, which took place in Masjid Philadelphia.
Since her 24-year-old son was fatally shot at a gas station in March, she has avoided situations that would link her to large numbers of people. For this reason, she has only recently returned to work as a nurse.
But while sitting in Masjid on Sunday, Murray said she was grateful that her friend had pushed her to leave North Philly. Talking to other mothers who have lost children to gun violence has made her feel less lonely and a little more hopeful for the future.
“I have a great support system. My family hasn’t left me, and friends haven’t left me since. But when strangers come and do it, things are different. It’s like motherhood, sisterhood. They know what you are going through, ”Murray said.
Deborah Kelly came to discuss –– and sell –– two dozen lessons contained in a book she wrote about raising children. They are all based on one goal: saving lives.
Kelly said it starts with a parent’s relationship with their children at home.
“There’s nothing wrong with telling a child that you love him and your eyes light up when he walks around the room. So it should be. But we think, “Oh, you’re going to ruin this baby. You can’t ruin this child by showing them love. ” That’s what they need, “said Kelly, a certified child educator who grew up in Hermantown.
Ivy Johnson, an employee of Why Not Prosper, nodded in agreement as Kelly spoke. She said communities should also unite and confront gun violence.
According to her, it is unacceptable to consider the current level of violence as the norm.
“It’s abnormal that we live in a war zone,” said Johnson, whose organization is working to stop the shooting, primarily through mediation.
“Every district is your district. You are responsible for every child who walks down this street, I don’t care where you are, ”she added.
About two hours before Sunday’s event, a 41-year-old man was shot dead on 1,600 blocks of Rowan Street in Knighttown’s North Philadelphia area. He was in stable condition at Temple University Hospital.
To date, 171 homicides have been recorded in Philadelphia, which is 12% less than the same period last year. The vast majority are victims of armed violence.
More than 750 people were shot this year.
This article first appeared on WYY.org.