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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- Deon Haywood rushed over immediately after getting the call late Friday night.

A fire had just ripped through parts of her non-profit organization's office in Mid-City, leaving severe damage.

'I was a little hysterical,' Haywood said.

The fire is still under investigation.

But, Haywood believes -- based on her talks with firefighters and police officers and what she has seen for herself -- it was set intentionally.

'Something was put on the walls to set the fire,' she said. 'So this was really painful to think that somebody would intentionally come into our office and set these things on fire.'

Haywood suspects someone targeted the building, because of what her organization does. The group, called Women With A Vision, works to educate women on issues like reproductive health, breast cancer awareness and HIV prevention.

Their clients are those no one else will help, Haywood said, including the poor and sex workers.

'I mean, we have serious health issues here and we reach the people most at risk for these diseases, and so that in itself, really hurts. I'm trying not to get emotional, but that hurts, that someone would target us like this,' she said.

Among the charred, destroyed items are important educational materials and some administrative equipment.

The room that suffered by far the most damage was also the area where the most important work in education and counseling took place.

Haywood believes that is no coincidence.

Still, despite the loss, she's determined to keep pushing forward.

'We're not a large organization. We don't have a large budget, but our work is powerful,' Haywood said. 'We just have to move, regroup and keep going, but it does put a dent in what we do in the community.'

The organization is accepting donations through its website, www.wwav-no.org.

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