A little ray of sunshine taken too soon

Sufi with his parents Hafsa Nimrah Qaseem (left) and Shadan Ahmad (right).

Sufi with his parents Hafsa Nimrah Qaseem (left) and Shadan Ahmad (right).

Every morning as she opens her eyes, Hafsa Nimrah Qaseem sees her son Sufiyaan’s smiling face.

The image of his big brown eyes and mischievous smile fills her broken heart.

His face is so clear.

She can almost touch it.   

“No words can describe my love for him,” Ms Qaseem said.

“It is evergreen.

“His smile every morning was so very precious and even now he is no more. I wake up each day and I can still see his gorgeous smile.

“He was my lucky charm, my ray of sunshine. He was our bundle of joy.” 

The grief-stricken parents of the five-year-old boy who died after a tragic fall at a preschool say they never want such a tragedy to occur again. 

Sufiyaan Ahmad, affectionately known as Sufi, tripped on the concrete footsteps at the Southern Rise Children’s Centre in Wodonga about 4.30pm on September 6.

The circumstances of his death are still being investigated by police.

It is believed he fell on two outdoor concrete stairs during after-school care and hit his head on a nearby pole.

Police said Sufi was semi-conscious when paramedics arrived, but went into cardiac arrest on the way to Albury Hospital. 

He died shortly after.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the loss of their only child, Ms Qaseem and her husband Shadan Ahmad say their lives have been irreparably shattered. 

They are still searching for answers. 

“He had no medical conditions, he was a healthy boy,” Ms Qaseem said.

“He had no marks or scratches on his face. 

“We dropped him off at school and he was fine, but he never came home that night.”

Ms Qaseem broke down as she described her son, a boy with a bubbly and infectious personality who radiated light into the lives of everybody he met.

“There was nothing bad about Sufi, only goodness and kindness,” she said. 

“He was just a beautiful little boy, very caring and always complimenting me.

“He was only five years old, but he was my best-friend. 

“He was very close to his dad as well. Our hearts are broken.”

Ms Qaseem and Mr Ahmad had moved with Sufi from Ballarat to Wodonga nine months ago. 

Mr Ahmad was a respected doctor at the Ballarat Base Hospital for six years prior to the family relocating. 

Both Sufi’s grandfathers and his uncles are also Ballarat doctors and the family are well-known in the Islamic community. 

In the midst of their grief, the couple are pushing for increased monitoring and security at child care centres to ensure no family experience their pain.

They are calling for the national roll-out of more stringent protocols when it comes to the safety of children, including the installation of CCTV cameras in playgrounds and a buddy system to ensure no child ever wandered off on their own.  

“We don’t want to blame anyone,” Mr Ahmad said. 

“We believe in God. We believe his time had come. 

“Our faith is keeping us strong. But we want to be sure this never happens to another family. We are suffering and we don’t want anyone else to ever feel that pain.”

Ms Qaseem is five months pregnant. 

Sufi wanted nothing more than to be an older brother.

“Every night, he would say I wish I could have a baby sister or brother,” she said. 

“I am a proud wife and I was a proud mother. I was a queen for my two boys, my husband and my son. No matter how many kids I have, no one will take his place in my heart.”

The couple said they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the Ballarat and Wodonga communities. 

“Sufi will always be with me, my wife and my family,” he said. 

“But the loss we have experienced cannot be explained in words. It’s just a feeling that never fades. 

“It must never happen again.”

The family are awaiting the findings of coroner’s report and police investigation into Sufi's death.  

An Islamic funeral was held in Ballarat on September 9.

The family extended their deepest gratitude to the staff at the child care centre and Albury hospital, Victoria police, the Coroners Court of Victoria, Ballarat’s Peter Tobin Funerals and Preston Islamic Funeral Services.