[Image: A boy and a woman, with the woman’s arm around the boy]
Part 11 of a series of posts honoring the Grenfell Tower victims.
Berkti and Biruk Haftom, from the 18th floor of
Berkti Haftom, 29, and her 12-year-old son Biruk both died in Grenfell Tower. Berkti was a refugee from Ethopia: she fled the country in 1998, forced to leave her oldest child Nahom behind in the care of her own
18-year-old Nahom spoke, through tears, at the Grenfell inquest:
“When my grandmother died in 2016, everything changed. She [Berkti] was really worried about me because I couldn’t cope on my own. Since that time she kept calling me to promise me, saying, ‘you will soon be with me’.
When I remember her voice you cannot even imagine how I feel. I was looking forward to living with my mum and little brother but the fire in Grenfell Tower on June 14 2017 changed everything. I didn’t see my mother for 15 years.”
Berkti worked as a caterer at King’s College Hospital. She loved working for the NHS, her family said, because she was a very caring person and possessed a strong work ethic.
In the days after the fire, the family paid tribute to both mother and son in a statement released via the police:
Biruk was a loving, pure hearted boy, wise beyond his years
and known for his politeness, kind heart and his love for his family and
He wanted to be a footballer, his family said, and loved Chelsea’s striker Eden Hazard. He worried about his brother overseas, but was almost always a happy and cheerful young boy.
“Berkti and Biruk left an everlasting legacy full of lovely
memories and their contagious laughter and charisma will live in our hearts forever.
We are deeply hurt and heartbroken our angels were taken
from us so cruelly, so young. We will not rest until justice is served!”
Berkti’s sisters told the Grenfell inquiry that she had been ten weeks pregnant at the time she died.