A Grenfell Tower survivor, who gave birth to a “miracle baby” after the disaster, has described her boy – now nearly five – as the shining light that has made her strong in half a decade of struggles since the fire.
As early as January 2018, the Mirror reported on Maryam Adam and her husband Abdulwahab’s newborn son Mohammed.
Maryam was three months pregnant at the time of the fire, exactly five years ago today, and they feared the trauma could interfere with an already difficult pregnancy.
But in November 2017, to her delight, Mohammed was born a healthy boy, just a month after the couple moved from a Premier Inn hotel where they had been staying for four months following the disaster.
Maryam, 46, still struggles daily with what she experienced and the friends she lost, and feels unsafe in her apartment because it is on the third floor. The evacuation keeps her busy.
Living a life with Grenfell almost always present, she wonders how she would escape if another fire broke out on her block in West Kensington, west London.
The only thing that takes her and 49-year-old Abdulwahab away from Grenfell, his memories and their lost friends is Mohammed.
A bundle of energy and joy, he doesn’t yet understand the role he played in keeping his parents alive and the significance of his birth.
He hops around her living room, plays with his toys and tells us about his day at kindergarten.
Mohammed is perceptive. Seeing his mother’s eyes fill as she describes what haunts her that fateful night, he’s quick to be at her side, asking if she’s okay and assuring her that everything will be fine.
He cuddles her and brings a handkerchief to wipe her eyes.
A cheeky Mohammed grin later and Maryam smiles again – summing up the emotions of the last five years and the way her boy always pulls her back.
“When Mohammed is at school during the day, I think a lot. I think a lot about Grenfell, about the friends I’ve lost, about whether there was more I could have done, about how we could escape from that third-floor apartment when there’s a fire,” she tells us.
“Before Grenfell I liked my own company, but now when I’m alone all I think about is Grenfell.
“But when he’s back from school, it’s all about him, Mohammed. It changes. He makes me smile again.
“I never thought he would survive.”
Somalia-born Maryam, who came to London 25 years ago, had suffered two miscarriages before giving birth to Mohammed.
Her 12-week scan came a day before the west London fire, and she was told Mohammed could face problems when he was born.
“They said he wasn’t ‘normal’ and that I might consider having an abortion,” she told us.
“But there was no way I wanted that, whether he was born with problems or not.
“I was advised on how to raise a child who would have difficulties. I told them I’ll have him no matter what.”
But against all odds, and while Maryam was coping with the trauma of the disaster, Mohammed was born a healthy child.
Maryam told us two months after his birth how she thought he was the youngest survivor of the fire, how he was a “miracle” and how when he is older she will tell her son to “thank God” for his arrival.
“These five years have not passed quickly. They went slowly and were very painful,” she said.
“Without Mohammed, it would have been so much more difficult.”
Abdulwahab agrees, saying, “Thanks to Mohammed, I can forget a lot of what I saw. Of course, you can never forget everything, but having him helped us deal with what happened.
“I don’t know where we would be without him.
“It is very difficult for me to think about that day, June 14, 2017, but it is burned into my heart.
“They say you should forgive yourself. But there was nothing I could do for the people I knew inside.”
“All my friends died with their families,” Maryam added, fighting back tears.
Maryam said they have been on a waiting list for a more suitable property for two years.
In the event of a fire in the current apartment where the windows do not fully open, Maryam, who suffers from severe mobility issues, has accepted her fate.
The parents agree that if there is a fire, Abdulwahab will catch Mohammed and they will flee.
They dare not wait for Maryam and risk their boy’s fate.
During a flood in the block’s basement last year, it took Maryam 15 minutes to exit the building during the evacuation.
You know that in the event of a fire, that might not be fast enough.
“We had to agree on that. I’ll take it and go,” said Abdulwahab, who is originally from Sudan.
“How are you supposed to live like that?”
“This is a beautiful place, but I can’t rest here,” Maryam said. “If the elevator doesn’t work, I can’t risk putting my family in danger.
“We just need a ground floor somewhere, that’s it. Many survivors are still waiting for a home where they feel safe.
“In the beginning the council said they would do anything for the survivors of Grenfell.
“But this is not a place we can call home. I don’t think they really care about our feelings and what we’re going through.”
Since the fire, Maryam said, she now carries her cellphone with her everywhere.
“If I had it with me at the time when I was yelling for friends to come out, I could have sent them pictures of how bad it was outside so they came out,” she says.
“I made a mistake. I can’t take the pain.
“But the people on the council and other stakeholders have not done their job properly. When examining, everyone points fingers at each other.
“I just want you to apologize and promise this will never happen again. I want them to learn.
“Because once you’ve escaped Grenfell, you’ll never live normal again.”
Maryam said she wanted to thank all the volunteers from different groups who have helped and continue to help the bereaved and survivors.
“These people deserve recognition, without them we would be nowhere.
“They’ve been with us all the way and they’re not getting paid for it. Now that I’m feeling a little stronger, I want to say thank you to every single person that has ever helped us. They’re amazing,” she said.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council did not respond to requests for comment.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/miracle-baby-helping-ease-grenfell-27224022 Miracle Baby helps ease the pain of Grenfell Fire that continues to plague survivors