To say Marlene Potoura has had a run of bad luck is a terrible understatement. The writer and educator is a single mother who in recent times has seen her pre-school business collapse and been evicted after her flat caught fire and was ransacked by thieves. Marlene has experienced the very worst of what Papua New Guinea can be. A few of her friends have assisted with funds but now I am widening this to include PNG Attitude readers. After you read Marlene’s story, if you feel you can assist, please donate to her at: Marlene Potoura, Account 1006258444, Bank South Pacific, Port Moresby. Marlene’s address is c/- Sylbeez Learning Centre, Lae, Morobe Province. This is an urgent and legitimate plea for help - KJ
AS YOU read this, I take this moment to ask for your kind help.
On 11 October 2016, my son Martin, 12, lit a candle at 9pm during a blackout, went to the toilet, came back, placed the candle on top of a computer CPU in our room and went back to bed. My daughter Darhlia, 8, and I had long gone been asleep.
The candle burned into the CPU and a fire started, giving off thick black smoke and setting alight the curtains and louvres. Luckily the door to the room was open.
My children's nanny, sleeping in the next room, was woken by the smoke and used our clothes to try to extinguish the fire.
The three of us in the bedroom narrowly escaped the fire suffering only the effects of smoke inhalation.
I get goose bumps and my heart pains when I recall this. My kids and I would have lost our lives if the nanny had not stayed the night.
As the fire progressed it seemed the entire population of the Four Mile area ran into the Nazarene churchyard and our flat.
The power came back on as people broke into our unit with the three of us coughing and choking.
Two men ran in and assaulted me and the nanny and stole some of our possessions.
The night was terrifying and chaotic and ended with the landlord's people evicting us from the flat at 4am with just our back packs.
We sought refuge with people I'd met in Lae and have been virtually homeless since then.
We were all traumatised. I took time off work and withdrew my kids from school.
I informed the police about what had happened, but they - knowing I am a single parent - weren't much help. They wanted money.
There’s much stress and difficulty in dealing with police and these kinds of issues in PNG.
The fire came at the worst time as I had just I closed my private school due to family issues and unpaid bills.
I owe K7,000 and I have reached the deadline for payment this month.
Meanwhile I have re-opened my Learning Centre, but cannot operate it properly because I have few resources.
I have worked hard to get our lives back in order, the kids are in school again, but I struggle to keep up.
I feel suffocated. I feel it is a hard burden to keep bearing alone.
I wrote an article about this personal disaster which was published in PNG Attitude and in the book, My Walk to Equality.
I asked Keith Jackson if he would publish an appeal for me and he said yes, but I slept on it and decided to just contact people I call friends.
Keith has now persuaded me to share my story with PNG Attitude readers and told me he will ask them to help.
Any assistance you give me will be recorded and I will try to repay the money when I get back on track.
If you have the heart to help me, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also donate to the bank account shown at the top of this story.
I apologise in advance if I caught you at an inappropriate time or if this embarrasses you. Thank you for reading this.