02/26/2015 08:45 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT

Sarah Lyama, small business owner, still struggling after Whalley fire

A small business owner who lost everything in a fire that tore through a strip mall in Surrey earlier this month is slowly putting her life back together.

Sarah Lyama, who owns Femaz Stitches on King George Blvd in Whalley, says her clients have been understanding while she has been working from home over the last two weeks.

“It’s not really convenient for me to work from home because I am living in a basement and the space is not quite enough for me, my kids, my husband and and my sewing machine,” she told The Early Edition.

“But for now, I have nothing to do but sewing until I can get another shop.”

Lyama moved her African fashion shop into the complex on King George Blvd. near 106th Avenue six months ago because she wanted more space.

She borrowed money and sunk her life savings into the project.

Lyama says she didn’t have enough left over to pay for insurance.

Charity organization without a home

The fire caused significant smoke and water damage to the unit that was rented by the Afro-Canadian Positive Network of BC, which provides services and does outreach work to help refugees who are HIV positive.

Executive Director Patience Nyoni says they want to move into a new location, but they can’t afford it.

“It has been so traumatic and up to now, I just don’t know what to do,” Nyoni said.

“Everything is in shambles right now. The office is damaged and there is nothing we can do right now. I am operating from home. It is so hard for us to come together. All of our programs that we were supposed to put together for the month of February are cancelled.”

Church services continue in new location

Of the four units that were damaged, the one belonging to the Revival Pioneers Church sustained the least damage.

“We are doing great and we are continuing with our services, but at a new location,” said pastor James Fabiyi.  

“There is not much damage other than water damage in the basement.”

Fabiyi isn’t sure when his congregation will be able to return to its original location.

Investigators believe the fire started in the kitchen area of La Conquistadora, which was also gutted.

Calls to the restaurant were not returned.