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Family of young fire victim grateful to community, firefighters

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Those who saw Utica firefighters pull the limp, lifeless body of four-year-old Halima Haji from her family’s burning east Utica apartment a week and a half ago doubted the little girl would survive.

Among them, the child’s mother, who saw her there and sat at her bedside at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. But just a week and a half after the devastating fire, the four-year-old is home from the hospital, showing no signs of long-term damage.

"Before I didn't think about Halima, her name is Halima, if she would be alive. Now she's eating well, if I say to her 'go get me water,' she brings me the water. She's eating. She's still recovering, but I'm very thankful and I'm very surprised that she's like this. When I saw her out, I didn't think she's alive,” says Halima’s sister, Zahara, who translated for their mother, Johora, during an interview with the family on Monday.

The other bright side to this inspiring story: the kindness of strangers.

“Everything was burnt out. The only thing now they wear is from the community," says Zahara.

“She says yes there's many people I don't know and in my heart they help me very well".

Everything from the ethnic dress, supplied by the local Somali Bantu community, to the furniture the Haji family sits and sleeps on has been donated by a very generous central New York community. The Red Cross is helping the family as well.

The Utica Municipal Housing Authority has placed the family in another apartment in the adjoining N.D. Peters Complex.

The Haji family says they’re extremely grateful to Utica firefighters and all of the physicians who treated Halima in Utica and Syracuse.

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