Fourteen years ago, when Shakila and her husband Mohamed ‘Saber’ Neda moved into the Grenfell Tower in West London, she never could have predicted they’d be leaving their home during one of the worst fires in the city’s history. Nor would she have thought her then 10-year-old son would be her savior.
A Son’s Life-Saving Heroism
Farhad Neda (who also goes by Shekeb), now a 24-year-old mechanical engineering graduate from Kingston University, carried his mother on his back down 24 flights of stairs. He fought through choking smoke and flames during the June 14, 2017, blaze to save his mother, Shakila, 55, who suffers from a muscular disorder that prevented her from escaping the burning tower on her own.
According to the Scottish Daily Mail, Farhad’s father Saber, 57, asked Farhad to leave him behind. Saber didn’t want to slow his son down and was last seen at 3:30 a.m. Reshad Habib, a cousin of Farhad, said he received a call from Saber at 2:20 a.m., around the time the fire had started. Habib also confirmed that Farhad and his mother made it out of the inferno safety.
The mother and son pair is currently being treated for their injuries at Westminster Hospital and King’s College Hospital respectively. Both Farhad and Shakila had fallen into comas after their, ordeal but family members have confirmed that Farhad is getting better.
“He is a hero. In the chaos, all the screaming and shouting, he picked up his mother and carried her down from the very top floor,” Fahim Muzhary, a friend of the family, told The Sun in reference to Farhad’s heroic actions. “He sprinted with her down the stairs the whole way. I just don’t know how he did it. He must have summoned the strength somehow in the moment. With all the smoke and the flames, it really is unbelievable.”
Saber is one of the more than 60 people still missing after the flames were doused, and his family is still hopeful for his return. Twenty-four people, including Farhad and his mother, are receiving treatment, with 12 being listed in critical condition. Another 30 people have already been confirmed dead.
The Nedas lived on the top floor of Grenfell Tower, which housed 120 flats and nearly 600 people on the night of the fire. A residents’ organization known as the Grenfell Action Group had warned officials of the potential fire risks at the tower but had been ignored.
The lack of multiple exits and an insufficient evacuation plan were cited by the group, which posted on the day of the catastrophe that “all our warnings fell on deaf ears, and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”
As for now, British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged more than $6 million to assist those displaced by the disaster, and Habib has started a GoFundMe campaign to help Farhad and Shakila during this time of need.
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