Heartbroken father of little Awaab Ishak remembers how 2-yr-old 'struggled to breathe' in moldy apartment

Heartbroken father of little Awaab Ishak remembers how 2-yr-old 'struggled to breathe' in moldy apartment
Awaab Ishak died just a few weeks after his second birthday (Family Handout)


OLDHAM, UNITED KINGDOM: An inquest started on November 4 in the matter of the boy who passed away after being made to live in a musty, moldy apartment in Rochdale. Awaab Ishak, who had trouble breathing when he was just two years old and died on December 21, 2020, was brought to Royal Oldham Hospital.

Just a few weeks before the tragedy occurred, he was captured on camera blowing out candles on a cake during his second birthday celebration. Other images have also been released and collected by the Manchester Evening News (MEN) which show the small child smiling as he played outside in the open air, probably as a relief from the deplorable conditions at home. During a post-mortem investigation, the discovery of a medical connection between Awaab's demise and the mold and moisture that plagued his family's apartment in the Ilminster block on the Freehold estate was found.


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(Family Handout)
Awaab celebrating his second birthday, just over a week before his death (Family Handout)

A coroner's hearing previously heard that his father Faisal Abdullah had protested to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), which owned and maintained the site, on several occasions. Before Awaab was even born, they had complained about the mold and begged for help finding a new home, the court heard. A new house for the family had also been requested but to no effect. The inquest at Rochdale Coroner's Court started on November 4, and according to Awaab's family, it's an opportunity to get some answers. Before the inquest, his father, Mr Abdullah, said, "We have a number of questions that we hope the inquest process will provide answers to. We want to ensure that any lessons to be learned are acted upon and that no other family has to go through this."

(Family Handout)
Pictures of Awaab looking happy and relaxed were released by his parents  (Family Handout)

Housing Ombudsman for England Richard Blakeway testified before the court that the legislation needs to be strengthened to require landlords to handle damp and mold issues since they did not have the same legal standing as gas safety and legionella. PC Chris Davis, a member of the Greater Manchester Police, reported seeing mold and moisture in several of the flats on the family's estate during his visits there. During the inquest, after hearing Mr Abdullah recount how his son "was struggling to breathe", Aisha Amin, Awaab's mother, fled the courtroom inconsolably as reported by BBC. It is estimated that Awaab's inquest should last nine days.

According to MEN, several families on Freehold have also reported having serious damp and mold problems in their houses. Like Awaab's family, they had attempted to move out, while others had received letters from their doctor advising them to do so. The four-month-old Gabriel, son of Vilma Lavres, was another child who had to be brought to the hospital due to serious respiratory problems. Families also struggled with the issue as senior managers at RBH recently reaped enormous "fat cat" salary raises. 

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