London, Aug 11: The girl who became the face of the London riots this week is a Polish shop assistant and has an India boyfriend, The daily Mail reported.
32-year-old Monika Konczyk came to the UK just a few months ago, hoping for a better life. But when marauding yobs set her street on fire, she had to fight for her very survival.
The image of her jumping from her first floor flat as flames tore through the building became an iconic image of the riots.
Terrified, fearing she was going to die, Monika was paralysed until her sister Beata screamed at her to jump the 16 feet to the street below.
Caught in the arms of a man lined up under her window, she escaped unharmed.
She told how she thought she was going to die in her rented flat in the conservative area of central Croydon on Monday night.
The Daily Mirror reported that she told a friend: 'It was horrendous. I was trapped inside my flat with nowhere to go. There was no way out for me. I thought I was going to die. I thought I would burn to death.
'The flat was getting hotter and hotter and when I tried to escape out of the front door the heat was just too much.
'I was panicking. All I could do was put my head out the window and people saw me down the street below.'
Despite her miraculous escape, her family said she has become withdrawn and depressed.
Monika had watched all the violence on the television and her older sister had phoned to tell her not to go out.
So she got changed into her pyjamas and got ready for bed.
But at 9 pm hooded youngsters broke into the House of Reeves furniture store, which backs onto her flat, and set it alight.
It quickly turned into an inferno, threatening nearby residents with potential death from the flames and smoke inhalation.
Monika ran to the window and started shouting for help, just as her sister and her husband arrived.
She told her friend: 'People started gathering and shouting at me to jump. But my English is not great. I've not been here for very long.
'Then a Polish man who lives in the area started speaking to me and eventually I was persuaded that I had to do it. I had to jump.'
Locals ignored police orders to stay back and defied thick smoke and heat to reach Monika. They laid out cushions and carpet rolls to soften her fall in case police didn't catch her.
As onlookers yelled 'jump, jump', she reportedly slid down an awning before jumping into the arms of a man waiting below.It is unclear if she was caught by riot police or a Romanian man named Adrian, who told the Daily Mirror she was weeping with shock when he caught her.
He added: 'We are neighbours. Nobody is a hero.'
Her sister (Mrs) Beata Mecaj 37, said last night: ‘She is incredibly traumatised as she feels she narrowly escaped death.
‘She is staying with me at the moment and I'm looking after her. It will take a while for her to get over this. She only came to the UK a few months ago and we are appalled that something like this could happen here. We always thought this country was so civilised.'
Monika had come to the UK in March to learn English and to join her older sister, who has lived in the UK for five years.
She had recently started a relationship with Amar Sharabi, a business graduate from India.
Amar Sharabi said on wednesday: ‘Monika is absolutely traumatised and very stressed. She doesn't want to even leave the house.'
A friend, Aleksandra Robak said Monika ‘didn't want to jump, she thought she was going to die'.
She added: ‘She was terrified and screaming at her sister that all of her things were in her flat and she didn't want to leave them.
‘She was also very scared of jumping but Beata told her it's better to jump than to die.
‘She is going to the doctors because we think she is suffering from depression.
‘Poor Monika has been very quiet since Monday and is not herself – she is still very shaken and upset.'
Monika, who is from the Polish town of Koronowo, has not returned to her job at Poundland in the Whitgift centre, where she works with her sister.