The last week and a half of Mohamed Kamara’s life have been nightmarish.

By day, he’s been shuttling between two hospitals 11 miles apart, visiting some of his family members at one hospital in the East Bronx and others at one on the Upper East Side. His nights are spent alone sleeping at a hotel near the family’s apartment.

Kamara’s wife and two daughters are among at least eight people who remain hospitalized nearly two weeks after the January 9th fire that killed 17 people. Three of those patients are being treated at Jacobi Medical Center and are in serious condition, a spokesperson for the hospital said. Five were being cared for at New York Presbyterian, a spokesperson said, declining to comment on their conditions.

Kamara’s 9-month-old baby Ceesay is still intubated and alone at Jacobi Hospital. Doctors tried to remove her from a ventilator, but had to put her back on one when she had trouble breathing on her own, Kamara said. His wife Fatoumatta and their 7-year-old daughter Jabu are still hospitalized at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

“You just have to keep praying,” Kamara said. “You don’t know what might come after.”

Kate Smart, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams, said her office didn’t have a full count of the people still hospitalized in the aftermath of the fire and it was not clear if patients were still being treated at any other facilities. Patients who had been treated at St. Barnabas Hospital had either been transferred or released, a spokesperson there said.

“These families are still going through [this]. They’re still very much in need of continued prayers,” said Sheikh Musa Drammeh, from the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx, who was acting as a community coordinator for people affected by the blaze. “They’re looking forward to brighter days ahead. The community in general is praying. But at the same time, we're also preparing for the worst, in case the worst becomes reality.”

Kamara, who immigrated from The Gambia in the mid-nineties, wasn’t home at the time of the deadly blaze. He works as an Uber driver and was out chauffeuring passengers around the city as he has most days since 2016. He said not being there when his family needed him haunts him.

“You start blaming yourself,” he said. “Why did you go to work? [But] you know you have to go to work.”

Kamara spent the entire day of the fire trying to locate his family. At first, all four of his children were in two hospitals along with his wife and he drove to hospitals all over the borough searching for them.

Photo of Mariam, Jabu and Abubakary Kamara who were all hospitalized after the fire. Mariam and Abubakary were released but Jabu remained hospitalized as of January 21st, more than week after the fire

Mariam, Jabu and Abubakary Kamara were all hospitalized after the fire. Mariam and Abubakary were released but Jabu remained hospitalized as of January 21st, more than week after the fire

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Mariam, Jabu and Abubakary Kamara were all hospitalized after the fire. Mariam and Abubakary were released but Jabu remained hospitalized as of January 21st, more than week after the fire
Courtesy of the of Kamara family

But late last week, two of his children, 8-year-old Mariam and 3-year-old Abubakary, were released. Both have autism. The 3-year-old, Abubakary, has been much quieter since getting out of the hospital, Kamara said. He has coughing fits at night and has to use a newly-prescribed asthma pump. Eight-year-old Mariam is non-verbal and uses an assistive speech device to communicate.

“Mariam does really well with routine and calmness and structure,” said the child's special education teacher, Christina Kharem. Kharem, along with other faculty at Mariam’s special education school, P469X Bronx School for Continuous Learners, had been helping raise funds for the family so Kamara can focus on caretaking and finding them a new place to live.

“The last memories of that building will be her mom and family screaming and trying to get out of that building and people dying around them,” Kharem said.

The Kamara family lived on the 15th floor of the 19-story building. FDNY officials said on that floor, a faulty stairwell door didn’t close automatically and allowed smoke to billow through it, though it wasn’t clear where in the building the family had been found. Kamara’s wife Fatoumatta still hasn’t been able to speak about what happened.

Mohamed Kamara is staying at a Red Cross-funded hotel along with 54 other families, including 155 adults and 52 children. His two children who recovered are staying with relatives for the time being. A spokesperson for the Red Cross said families can now stay at the hotel through February 7th. After what happened, Kamara said he can’t imagine ever returning with his family to the apartment at 133 East 181st Street.

“Because of how much my kids went through [there] and I was not able to help,” he said.

Kamara’s 20-year-old niece Isatou Kamara, a social work student at Medgar Evers College, has been with her uncle most days since the fire, visiting the family in the hospital and trying to help him find a new three-bedroom apartment — no simple task when you’re juggling the apartment application process with hospital visitations.

Most of the family’s clothing and furniture reek with the stench of smoke and will have to be thrown out. Kamara said visiting her baby cousin in the hospital and watching her struggling to breathe on a ventilator was heartbreaking.

“I don't know how to grieve because I know there's people that had it worse than us,” she said. “My uncle and his entire family somehow, some way, God chose to save them … even though they’re still in the hospital, I just try to look on the bright side and be grateful.”