Mary Tubor and Lawrencia Tamalko return to Ningil after the fire
Mary, Grade 4 Teacher at Ningil Primary School, and Lawrencia, a nurse working in the Ningil Clinic, were determined to return to their respective Ministries as soon as they could after their convent was destroyed by fire.
The day following the fire the five Sisters from Ningil were evacuated down to the coastal region to Aitape. Distressed and in shock they were supported by the Sisters there and a few days later by Bernadette Pattison and Anne Lane who flew from Australia to Papua New Guinea as soon as they could.
It became clear the fire was caused by an electrical fault connected with the solar lights. One of the Sisters who saw smoke, went to investigate had the presence of mind to quickly run downstairs and turn off the gas!
The Sisters tried to pull some things out but of course could see nothing in the dark. By then the local people were there and tried to assist but called the Sisters as they could see it was a hopeless situation.
There was nothing else they could do but watch the building burn. They and some of the people stayed all night. The next morning, some of the people put mourning mud on their faces as if someone had died. They also passed around the bucket for donations.
Elizabeth, Bernie and Imelda travelled from Aitape the next morning and brought the Sisters back to Aitape.
Anne Lane said, “Bernadette Pattison and I were in constant phone contact (from Australia) during this time with the Sisters in Ningil. During my first phone call with Mary Tubor I could hear the roar of the fire in the background.”
“The first day Bern and I were in Aitape, we spent storying with the Sisters. It was a most moving time with many tears. The Sisters level of listening to each other and, as one said, giving each other the right space, was extraordinary. It was one of those times when you feel out of tragedy comes a real gift.”
Sr Bernie Telemai wrote, “We very much appreciate all the prayers and messages of support from the Sisters in Australia and other parts of the world. It was a very sad experience for all of our Sisters here in Papua New Guinea and although everything was destroyed we thank God the Sisters were safe.”