The Liberian community in Philadelphia held a Gospel Concert Monday night for victims of the Gesner Street fire that killed four children earlier this month.
The free event was held at the First Baptist Church of Paschall and open to the public. It was the first opportunity for people in the wider community to express their condolences firsthand to the two families who lost their children.
The concert, called The Love After the Loss Benefit Concert, featured many performers, including Many Fuller, Doc Hero, Charles Sleyon, YES Choir, Aron Thomas, Andrew Williams and Laei Jones.
"Tonight is an opportunity for the Southwest Philadelphia community to come together and release some of the tension," said Eric Simmons, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Paschall.
Prior to the concert, the church fed families dinner. A goodwill offering was also taken up for those who were impacted by the fire.
The multi-home fire broke out in the early morning hours of July 5 when a couch on the porch of one of the Southwest Philly rowhomes caught fire. Marie Bowah was inside the home next door, caring for her five girls and watching a neighbor's two boys. The fire spread quickly to her home and 9 others on the block.
Bowah was able to help her three oldest girls jump out a second-floor window, which she too used to escape when the fire got too intense. The four youngest children did not survive. Bowah lost her youngest daughters, Maria and Marialla Bowah, four-year-old twins. Her neighbor's two boys, 4-year-old Patrick Sanyeah and 7-week-old include Taj Jacque died as well.
"Since the incident, I have had trouble sleeping at night," said Numah Wilson, uncle to the deceased twin girls. Wilson, who was in the audience in a splint after dislocating his shoulder during a protest of the fire department's response to the fire, said he was thankful for the concert.
Volunteers have stepped in to raise money for the burials and funerals, which have not been held yet because family members are waiting for relatives to arrive from out of the country.
The First Baptist Church of Paschall is located at 7100 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19142.
Organizers say any money raised during the event will go families affected by the Gesner Street.