Dubai - Pratiksha Tamang, 31, who works as a cleaner in Dubai, said it is a blessing that she is here in the UAE during these tough times.
Come rain or (come) shine, the UAE's most hardworking community - blue-collar workers - are on the field fulfilling their duties sincerely. And what keeps them optimistic and upbeat even during this critical time of the Covid-19 pandemic when they are away from their families, is the great deal of attention, care and good treatment meted out to them in the UAE.
Transport foreman at STS, Said Rahman, 35, has completed 14 years in the UAE and has toiled hard to go up the ladder in terms of achieving financial stability. He has only words of gratitude for the UAE for keeping them safe and secure at all times.
"Everyone is worried about the spread of Covid-19 and so am I. But I feel much safer here in the UAE than in my home country as we are well taken care of. We have been given sanitisation kits from an NGO here and our employer is also creating timely awareness by giving us regular instructions. All this has helped us stay calm and safe," Rahman told Khaleej Times.
"Apart from providing us free iftar meals and other necessary items required to maintain hygiene, our company and an NGO have been holding regular awareness sessions where we are being educated on how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and how to maintain hygiene standards. Of course, masks and gloves are now part of our everyday life. If I was in my country, probably, I wouldn't receive this level of care and high safety standards. Also, we feel blessed that we have been receiving salaries even when we are not working these days as schools are closed. Work is affected adversely but our employers are seeing to it that we are able to provide for our families back in our hometown."
Echoing his thoughts, Pratiksha Tamang, 31, who works as a cleaner in Dubai, said it is a blessing that she is here in the UAE during these tough times. The Nepalese national who has just completed two years in the UAE said: "I feel lucky that I am here during these times as in my home country there is a total lockdown and many have lost their jobs. They do not even have the means to sustain themselves. Here, at least we have our jobs and are being taken care of by our employers under the guidelines of the government. Several charities and NGOs have started sending plenty of free food supplies, grocery stuff and hygiene packs. We have been assured time and again that the government won't let the impact of the economic downturn come on us and this itself is so comforting."
Tamang, who is the breadwinner for her family in Nepal comprising daughter and husband as well as in-laws, stays with her six roommates in a labour accommodation where she says high standard of hygiene are being maintained. "It is important that we are constantly instructed about the safety measures that we are to follow to keep this pandemic at bay. Also, my roommates maintain a two-metre distance when in our room. Apart from wearing masks and gloves when stepping out, I carry sanitiser with me when I go to work and am particular in washing hands very often. All of us have also been advised to take regular showers to avoid any kind of infection. With such measures in place, I feel confident we will bounce back to normalcy. I do not feel any stress or anxiety now because we have a solid support of the UAE government, our caretakers."
Calling the UAE a home away from home, Indian national Shamsan N, who works as a private car driver, said whatever the circumstances are, she wants to be here in the UAE because of the safety net it provides to workers here.
A single mother, who is financially supporting seven members of her family back home, said: "If I was not here then me and my family would have had a real tough time in India. The way the UAE has controlled the spread of the virus is commendable. Our jobs are safe, our health is good, our food supplies are well-stocked and we are given protection of various kinds to reduce the impact of the pandemic. These are all perks of living in this amazing country," said Shamsan.
"When I talk to my family, I hear how much difficulty they are facing in terms of getting the basic food supplies due to the lockdown. But here in the UAE, the supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants are open with all the necessary precautions in place. No one flouts rules, we all wear gloves and masks all the time and we consider it our responsibility to take these precautions that the country has urged us to take for the larger good of the society. Also, help is pouring from all sides, not only financially but also morally by our employers and also from volunteers from various charities. There are various apps, helplines available where we can share our grievances. I truly feel this place is my home away from home as our leaders prioritise our safety and security and make us feel respected and loved," she added.