KUCHING, July 26: Catherine Janet Tiwi, the 25-year-old teacher who perished in a fire incident in Mulu reportedly while trying to save her colleagues, is a true epitome of a person with a “heart of gold”.
Schoolmate Elena Jitom described the late Catherine as a kind-hearted soul who would not hesitate to help others. She recalled how her late friend was always attentive to those struggling with their school work in class or short of stationeries.
Catherine would also ask her friends if they needed help with their work or were in need of a pencil and such.
Elena said Catherine was also generous with her school lunches or money if a classmate found themselves without any food during recess or after school. Her giving nature stayed with her through her adulthood.
“She is just easy to be with. She is caring, always looking out for others. If you come to her for help, she will do her best to lend a helping hand without question. The fact that she died in the fire trying to save others, that is so her. Always putting other people first,” said the 25-year-old sales executive.
Elena and her parents were among hundreds of mourners including friends and relatives who attended Catherine’s wake at Kampung Skio, Bau, on Thursday evening.
Catherine died in the 5.30am fire incident at SK Batu Bungan, Mulu, on Wednesday after failing to come out from the burning teachers’ quarters, where she was staying with her colleagues.
It is understood that she had earlier made it out of the quarters only to run back in, as she attempted to save two other friends. The deceased, attached with SK Penghulu Baya Malang, was with several other teachers accompanying students for a course at the school located at the Mulu National Park.
Catherine had been a teacher for two years upon graduating from the Teachers Training Institute in Miri.
Another schoolmate Sabrina Metree, described Catherine as a joyful person who always saw the positive side in life. She said her late friend rarely got angry and was always in a good mood.
“When she entered a room, everything just lit up. Her smile was contagious and she brought joy to the room with her quirkiness.
“She was a really good friend who always advised us to be happy and not dwell on failures, disappointments or the sad part in life. I’m happy to have known her,” said Sabrina, who was a Fire and Rescue cadet together with Catherine in school.
On the circumstances that claimed her friend’s life, she called Catherine a true hero.
“I only saw her last week and I didn’t expect it would be the last time I saw her. I really feel her loss,” she said.
Catherine’s grandfather Seimon Jugoi mourned the fact that his granddaughter was planning an engagement in December.
“I almost fainted when told of the news. She was such a happy-go-lucky person and known in the village for her charm and warmth. She was also active in sports and religious activities. I guess that God loves her more,” he continued.
Seimon said Catherine spent last weekend with the family to celebrate her brother’s birthday before flying off to Miri on Monday.
Catherine was the only daughter, one of four siblings, of Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) senior officer Tiwi Nios and Wency Seimon. — DayakDaily