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'It makes me want to cry'

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Antoinette Burgess starts the Kijani Burgess Dream Award for Bermuda Institute pupils who graduated high school despite learning challenges. Pictured- Antoinette Burgess with daughter Khaeljah Burgess and Yulanda Francis (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A mother who started fundraising in memory of her late teenaged son said she was “humbled” when she received $3,428 in donations in less than a week.

Antoinette Burgess said that the Kijani Burgess Dream Award made more than a quarter of their $10,000 goal on their GoFundMe page just five days after going public with the fundraiser – and added that they would likely receive more.

She added that it was “very heart-warming” to see so many people give their well wishes to her and her family.

Mr Burgess said: “I experienced the same thing when he died – people were donating towards his funeral expenses.

“To feel that again just from random strangers that I don’t even know – I don’t know what else to say other than thank you.

“It makes me want to cry.”

She added: “People have actually stopped us and went us Whatsapp messages.

“Quite a few people asked if we had a local bank account because they want to donate but a lot of people don’t like putting their account information online, so that is something we are working diligently to do.

“I actually had two people who reached out and said ’hey, we get union dues taken out of our pay every month, so when this bank account is set up my union dues are going to the charity.

“It just proves that if you have kindness in your heart then people will remember you for that and people will want to know more about who you were.”

Kijani died on January 13 last year, aged 16, in an accident near Scaur Hill, in Sandys.

Teachers and pupils at the Bermuda Institute, in Southampton, where he attended, wore blue soon after the accident to pay tribute to the youngster and others who lost their lives on Bermuda’s roads.

Ms Burgess started the Kijani Burgess Dream Award last month to give a $2,500 bursary to a Bermuda Institute pupil who graduated high school despite learning difficulties.

Kijani Burgess died in a traffic collision on January 13 last year, aged 16 (Photograph from social media)

The $10,000 will go to graduates for the next four years, while any remaining money would cover fundraising costs.

Ms Burgess said that her GoFundMe page asked for British pounds because the website would not fund Bermudian bank accounts and they had to use her daughter’s UK account.

She added that the money would be exchanged into Bermudian dollars and that a Bermudian account would be up and running by next week.

Ms Burgess said that the appeal had also received several donations for their gift basket she plans to auction for the “Auction of Dreams” fundraiser on Mother’s Day.

These items included a cheesecake and gift vouchers for clothing stores, beauty salons and a private work out with a personal trainer.

Ms Burgess admitted that the Covid-19 pandemic limited the amount of in-person events they could do, but she added that she and other volunteers were looking into online fundraisers.

She also said that, while many people waited for the Bermudian account to be activated, one person gave her $200 in cash during a chance encounter at a store.

Ms Burgess said: “I was in the supermarket and someone – just a member of the public – had recognised me from the paper.

“She said to me ’don’t leave the store until I come back’. She left and came back with an envelop and said ’this is from me and my family’.”

She added: “The envelop had $200 in it. I was so blown away that I started to cry.

“That will be one of the first donations into the bank account when it’s open.”

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Published April 10, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated April 10, 2021 at 7:20 am)

'It makes me want to cry'

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