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Expat couple with 10 kids seeks help to find shelter in Dubai

anjana@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 12, 2020 | Last updated on August 12, 2020 at 11.47 pm
Sri Lankan couple, 10 kids, seek, help, shelter, Dubai
Mohammed Imamudeen with his family photographed at this residence in Dubai.-Photo by Neeraj Murali

The family claims that they are now facing eviction.

A Sri Lankan couple, along with their 10 children, is desperate to find shelter in Dubai, as the family's breadwinner is yet to find a job because of the pandemic.

The 12-member family - comprising of Imamudeen Meera Lebbe, 52, his wife Sithy Fazila, 45, and 10 children between the age of six and 20 - came to the UAE in September 2019, hoping to start a new life. But the family claims that they are now facing eviction as they have not been able to pay their rent for the last two months.

"Everybody is turning us away because of the large size of my family. I found this small accommodation with a lot of difficulty. I owe Dh6,000 as two months of rent. The landlord asked me to leave the accommodation in case I am not able pay the rent within two days," Lebbe told Khaleej Times.

Khaleej Times visited the family and found them cooped up in a spartan two-room accommodation, in a shared villa, near Al Mamzar Beach on the Dubai-Sharjah border. There was no furniture see around the house; not even bed frames, as they are used to sleeping on the floor with blankets serving as mattresses. The children are also out of school.

Lebbe claims that he had been working as a bus driver in Sri Lanka, and later he chose to sell all his belongings in his hometown, to relocate to the UAE.

"I have been living in rented homes all my life and was able to find an accommodation with ease until I had my sixth child. But as my family grew, it become impossible to find a place to live in. Everywhere I went, people poked fun at me and many were downright angry that I had fathered 10 children," he said.

Amid all the mockery he faced, the distraught father decided to pack his bags and try his luck in this region, determined to provide for his wife and kids. "Almighty Allah gave me these wonderful children and I am willing to work hard to feed and take care of them. I hope people in the UAE will be sympathetic towards my plight," said Lebbe.

He said all he needs is a roof over their heads, and a stable job, so that he can take care of his family. Currently, the family is surviving on handouts and rice packets given by charitable organisations.

A restaurant owner in Deira, Riyaz Ahmed, took pity on them and supplied them with food for a few days after witnessing the family's struggle to survive.

"That came as a relief. Until then, rice was all we had eaten. My seventh child, Mohammad Inzamam, is specially-abled and cannot walk. I happen to worry about him quite often," said Lebbe.

His wife Fazila is equally worried, but she is hopeful that their eldest daughter, who is a trained beautician, and their 18-year-old son could land a job in Dubai soon. "I pray that somebody comes forward to help us," said Fazila.

anjana@khaleejtimes.com 

author

Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.


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