Portraits » Mohamed and Leen

The oldest of 7 children, Mohamed is 24 years old living in an inner city townhouse with both parents and some of his siblings while a couple of his sisters are off to university. Mohamed was born in Somalia and came to Canada with his parents in 1995. His mother, Leen, completed high school in Somalia and his father completed a degree in agriculture there. Leen has worked in different jobs including on an assembly line and doing personal support work. She presently drives a school bus while her husband works in security.

Mohamed is very independent according to Leen but needs assistance and reminders for everything including eating. He attends a full-time day program, which includes a job and life skills. She appreciates him having somewhere to go in the morning. He cannot read or write due to his developmental disability acquired through a high fever from Meningitis at 9 months. Leen recalls that it took him a long time to sit and eventually walk. After arriving in Canada, he was enrolled in a special education program in a school for kids with disabilities in the Brantford area before moving to Toronto. Leen states that Allah does everything and that she had six after him with no problems.

Leen takes Mohamed to the mosque for different programs where he just sits and listens. She has no support from the community. In fact, she states that people say she has one son and she has to remind them that she has two.

She says people in her community do not count Mohamed. Her family is supportive and understands, but the community see him as not normal.

Leen and her husband have a written will and have discussed with their children who will take care of Mohamed. She expects that he will live with one of his older sisters one of whom is pursuing a career as a registered nurse. Leen’s dream is to see Mohamed and see his children. She is searching for the right girl back home for him, but expects that he will live in Canada. She hopes her children will care for him like she does. Leen keeps reminding her children to care for Mohamed.

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