Maggie is a survivor and alumni of My Refuge House. She graduated college with a degree in Social work and is sharing stories from her life as a young woman who continues to work to overcome the disadvantages of her youth. Previously, she shared her experiences meeting her boyfriend's family. Here, she shares her experience as the victim of a crime of arson.
This blog has been lightly edited for proper translation and clarity.
Around 8:30 one of our friends who also rented in our apartment building called to tell us that our room was on fire. I thought that it was just a small incident, like the kitchen was on fire and the neighbors were already able to put it out before it spread. We immediately got on our motorcycle and drove very fast, not even thinking that we might get into an accident.
When we got there, I saw a fire truck and fireman and a lot of people surrounding the area. All of their eyes were on us as we went to our room. When I got there, I was immediately shocked and couldn't even speak. I started to cry and look for my cats and kittens, I was hopeless just looking at our room. All of our belongings were all burnt down and I thought all of my cats were dead. I was shaking. I was scared and sad and all of my feelings were spiraling and I couldn't even think or calm down. All I could ask was “where are my cats?”
Eventually, 2 out of the 8 kittens were found under the sink where they were able to hide since that part of the kitchen wasn't totally burnt down. Our neighbors were able to find 2 of our cats on the street. They were able to jump off the terrace during the fire.
I felt so sad for my cats thinking about what they'd been through. My heart aches every time I think about the kittens who died during the fire. I kept imagining them asking for help when I wasn't there to rescue them. I should have been there for them. I should have gone home early that night, then all of this wouldn't have happened.
One of the firemen had been asking some questions about who lives in the room, asking for our names and other basic information. They gave us two boxes which contained rice and canned goods. My boyfriend's colleagues were also able to help us. They let me stay at their base until we were able to figure things out. That night, I was not able to sleep. I still couldn't believe what happened. I was hungry but didn't have the appetite to eat. My cats also weren't able to sleep. The next morning, I decided to let my cats stay at my parents house. As much as I would have liked to stay with my family, there are too many of them in the house, so we had to find another place to rent.
The first day after the fire was exhausting. We had to go to city hall to file an affidavit of loss and went to the BFP station to give our statements about how the fire broke out. The investigator told us that it was not a matter of a short circuit in the electricity. There were 2 witnesses stating that a girl opened our room before the fire happened. They told us to file an arson case against the girl because the statements of the witnesses corroborate it. I knew the girl they identified and don't have a good relationship with her for various reasons, mainly because of her live-in partner, who is also my boyfriend's co-worker. I was so angry when I heard that she might be the one who really started the fire and felt so bad for my kittens. I wanted to confront her but I knew that it wasn't the right thing to do.
The case is still pending because one of the witnesses has backed out. She told the fire officer that she was afraid that the suspect might get back at her. We are now trying to get back to our normal lives. We wanted to talk to the witness but I don't want to also force her to testify because I know that it's hard from personal experience. We are still figuring out what we should really do. I know that everything will be fine in the right time. We are all trying to heal and we try to divert our minds into positive things whenever we remember that day. At the end of the day, I still thank God because no human was hurt during the fire. We still feel blessed, and I am grateful to God.