Somali refugees usher in 2020 with new baby at Humber River Hospital

Ikran Ahmed Mohamed and her husband were so exhausted after her 24-hour labour that they had no idea why a nurse lifted up their new baby — like Rafiki holding up Simba in The Lion King — and called him “the lucky boy.”
Ikran Ahmed Mohamed and her husband Deeq Mohamed Farah with baby Amiir Deeq Mohamed, born at the stroke of midnight to usher in 2020. - Rene Johnston/Toronto Star
He may not be a king, but little Amiir — whose name means “prince” in Arabic — was greeted with fanfare when he arrived, weighing 8.3 pounds, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day. A clutch of reporters and cameras was waiting to greet the first baby born in 2020.
We didn’t even know it was already the new year,” said Amiir’s father, Deeq Mohamed Farah, who had been in and out of Humber River Hospital with Ikran over the holidays after the baby missed his due date of Dec. 22. “He’s a New Year surprise. We didn’t expect a New Year baby.
Farah said his wife was readmitted late Sunday for induced labour and the delivery was taxing for the first-time parents, who were both Somali refugees living in Djibouti, a tiny country in East Africa, before he fled to Canada for asylum in 2014. Ikran joined him here last year after Farah was granted refugee status and became a permanent resident.
“Neither Ikran nor I have family in Canada. Now we have a baby boy in our company. He is going to be our new best friend,” said Farah, who has been working as an Uber driver after graduating from a computer and network support technician program at Humber College in April.
It’s hard to become a father. Back home, we did not have a future. We struggled so hard and we want to give our baby the best opportunity in Canada.
The couple, who were busy sharing the news of their arrival with their family in Somalia through texts and video calls, hope Amiir’s arrival will mark a new beginning for their young family, after being uprooted by civil war and unrest.
“I want Amiir to grow up becoming a teacher, doctor or engineer like his father,” said Ikran, looking admiringly at her husband. “It is not easy to get an education when your country is at war. We want our son to get a good education to teach others, help people and save lives.”
According to UNICEF, an estimated 1,004 first babies would be born in Canada on New Year’s Day in 2020, representing 0.25 per cent of the estimated 392,078 babies born this Jan. 1 around the world.
“The beginning of a new year and a new decade is an opportunity to reflect on our hopes and aspirations not only for our future, but the future of those who will come after us,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. “As the calendar flips each January, we are reminded of all the possibility and potential of each child embarking on her or his life’s journey — if they are just given that chance.”

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