Combating coronavirus: New Muslim quits job to take care of Covid-19 patients in Dubai
Dubai - Fatima is the only earning member of the family at the moment.
Filipino expat Maryam Cuevas and her family have embraced Islam in 2015 and, since then, they have been observing Ramadan as devout Muslims by doing volunteer work. Now that they're spending the holy month amid the Covid-19 pandemic, they knew they had to do something to help others.
Maryam, 32, has quit her job to become a volunteer nurse for Covid patients at Al Warsan facility in Dubai - and it's the first time she's staying away from her family during Ramadan.
She gets to visit them only once in two weeks but, even during such opportunities, she stays outside the house - fearing that she might be carrying the virus and could infect her family.
"I do miss my family but Allah has chosen me for a great cause and I cannot be more happier," Maryam said.
"Ramadan is the month of mercy and sacrifice and, this time, I experienced it in its true essence as I sacrificed staying with my family and instead spent most of my time with patients who needed reassurance and assistance."
For the past five years since they embraced Islam, the family - which includes Maryam's mother Fatima Dela Cruz and her eldest brother Khalid Cuevas - has been volunteering at the Islamic centre in their neighbourhood. They would usually help the Filipino community prepare and share Iftar meals.
This time, however, while Maryam is taking care of Covid patients, Fatima, Khalid and their relatives have also been doing their bit. They have been making face shields and masks at home, distributing fumigation sprays for free to those in need, and joining other volunteer initiatives.
Fatima is the only earning member of the family at the moment, since Khalid's job contract is over and Maryam has resigned from her job to be a volunteer. It may be an exceptional time for them, but she expressed her trust in Allah and her happiness in seeing her daughter serve Covid patients.
"I am proud of my daughter and happy that she is sacrificing her job, family time and even putting her health at stake to serve this amazing country that is now our home. This is the time the country needs her. I and my sister Noor (Maryam's aunt) really encouraged her to leave her job and volunteer her services for the nation," Fatima said.
"It is time to give back to this great country and what better month to do so than the holy month of Ramadan."
Last week, in one of Maryam's rare visits, the family managed to do their first Iftar together - on Fatima's insistence. Her aunt Noor and daughter Jenny, who are also new Muslims, joined them for the special meal.
"Although I managed to do iftar just once with my family, I am grateful to Allah for everything," an emotional Maryam said.
"I do miss having Suhoor with my family and cousins and attending Iftar gatherings with my fellow Muslims in Islamic schools, but I stayed connected with all of them through calls and videos."