Three single-mothers struggle to rebuild after arson destroys homes

Three single-mothers struggle to rebuild after arson destroys homes
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Three single-mothers are struggling after a fire destroyed everything they have worked to build.

"I know these ladies personally," said Shonda Williams, President of the Manna Outreach Foundation, Inc. "I know their struggle.

"One woman works overnight, one works three jobs, one works in the wee hours overnight," she continued. "One is in school. One has gotten accreditation. They were all just getting momentum forward. Now they're very discouraged, lost and emotional."

The fire happened Wednesday at an apartment complex located on Sherwood Meadow Drive. Fire investigators arrested 38-year-old John Akbar and charged him with arson.

During questioning, Akbar allegedly confessed to starting the fire with gasoline and a cigarette lighter.

"Everything is gone," Williams said. "All the kids are safe and they can try to rebuild material things. We just want to keep them encouraged and not discouraged."

Thirteen children and their mothers are starting over with nothing. The non-profit organization is collecting donations to help ease that burden.

"Be it a cup, a plate, clothes – they need everything," Williams said. "It's going to take months to rebuild their lives."

From basic necessities such as underwear and a toothbrush, to larger items such as furniture, all is welcome.

"We've been helping homeless single parents for about two years now," Williams explained. "Right now we're at capacity, so we're not able to place these women in a home. We're just trying to spread the word and help in ways that we can."

Items for donation can be dropped off at 264 Lobdell Avenue during normal business hours. For afterhours drop-offs, call (225) 571-7919. Financial donations can be made online at All donations are tax deductible.

Family 1: 15-year-old girl, 12-year-old girl, 10-year-old girl, 5-year-old girl, 3-year-old boy; mom size large
Family 2: 12-year-old girl, 7-year-old girl, 4-year-old boy; mom size medium

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