Estella’s community rallies roun

As news of this past weekend’s events spread across the Cayman Islands, many are congregating online to express their grief.

Cathrine Welds, 20, created a group on the popular social networking site Facebook, named Standing by our beloved Estella Scott in her fight against abuse.

‘I created it out of respect and love for Estella,’ said Ms Welds. ‘Thousands of people use Facebook, so it seemed appropriate.’

The numbers of people joining the group grew rapidly as news spread. On Saturday evening there were 86 members in the group. By Tuesday morning, the group had 863 members.

‘[This case] touched a lot of people,’ said Ms Welds. ‘I wasn’t sure how many would join, but so many people knew her and knew of her work.’

Ms Welds also added information about the upcoming Silent Witness March on Saturday.

‘I included that because it represents what she fought for – domestic violence and abuse. I think it will be a huge, huge event this year.’

Charmaine Moss, chairperson of the Silent Witness Committee, which is operated by the Young Business and Professional Women’s Club of Grand Cayman, agreed with Ms Welds.

‘We average around 50 people in attendance each year, though it does fluctuate year to year,’ said Ms Moss. ‘But this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were in the thousands.’

Ms Welds knew Estella Scott-Roberts through the Rotary Club, where Ms Welds is co-chair of International Services in Rotary Act.

Mrs. Scott-Roberts had given a speech at one of the Act’s celebration dinners following a Rotary training session. Both Mrs. Scott-Roberts and her husband, local therapist Rayle Roberts, were actively involved in the club.

‘Her speech was truly inspirational,’ said Ms Welds. ‘She talked of abuse and what we should stand for and it brought tears to many people’s eyes.’

Ms Welds has the greatest of admiration for Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ work.

‘She kept women safe and alive. Women aren’t as protected as we often think we are,’ explained Ms Welds.

‘She was a strong and fearless person. A lot of people put her down for years and years and she told us that she had received death threats before. But she still fought and kept going.’

The Facebook group has provided an outlet for many people’s grief. Many have left comments on the site, and a number of discussion topics have been started on issues such as nominating Estelle for this year’s Young Caymanian Leadership Awards or nominating her for National Hero.

Another initiative that has started from the group is the creation of a commemorative ribbon that will be made in memory of Estella Scott-Roberts and distributed island-wide.

Patrice Donalds, a close friend of Mrs. Scott-Roberts, is the driving force behind the initiative.

‘On Saturday I was devastated, on Sunday I was beside myself but today I am angry,’ Ms Donalds said. ‘This is about someone who died senselessly and someone who thought they had the right to play God.’

Ms Donalds is putting her energy in to the creation of the purple and white ribbons – the two colours representing violence against women and children, two issues Mrs. Scott-Roberts worked tirelessly to combat.

A number of people have already volunteered to help make ribbons and distribute them throughout schools, supermarkets and government agencies.

Volunteers also wished to distribute the ribbons among the members of the Lion’s Club, as Mr. Roberts is an active member, and throughout Cable and Wireless, where Mrs. Scott-Roberts worked as manager of corporate communications.

Requests for donations will accompany the ribbons, but their distribution will be complimentary. ‘It would not be Estella if we made people pay for them,’ explained Ms Donalds.

‘Whatever people are able to give we ask them to give. All the funds raised will go to the Crisis Centre and the Women’s Resource Centre, which Estella worked with and supported.’

Although locations for the ribbons’ distribution have not yet been confirmed, Ms Donalds is sure that the Resource Centre is one location where people will be able to collect them.

Ms Welds does not see Cayman society returning to normal anytime soon.

‘Estella’s death will affect us for a long time. We make laws but we need them to be enforced. We’re fortunate to live in the Cayman Islands but the world’s dangers are trickling down to us as we globalise and grow.’

Unfortunately, she added, it takes tragic events to open our eyes to the reality of our community.

The Silent Witness March will be a good start for people to vocalise their support for this cause and also to console one another in their grief.

Ms Moss encourages men, in particular, to come out to show their support, as well as companies, churches and schools.

‘We are confident that this year we will have the community out to support the march,’ said Ms Moss. ‘I am sure 95 per cent of those in attendance will be there because of what happened to Estella.’

The Young Business and Professional Women’s Club sends its condolences to Rayle and Estella’s family, added Ms Moss. ‘They are in our prayers.’