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Pakistani mother in UAE scrambles for help as husband dies

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on January 4, 2020 | Last updated on January 4, 2020 at 06.22 am
pakistani, mother, uae, help, expat, husband, dies, nighat sultana


Nighat, 39, lost her husband - the breadwinner of the family - a few weeks ago.

While people are busy wishing each other a happy new year, Pakistani expat Nighat Sultana is scrambling for an answer to one big question from her children: "Mama, will we be able to join school after holidays?"

Nighat, 39, lost her husband - the breadwinner of the family - a few weeks ago. Now, she and her four school-going children, aged 10 to 16, are staring at an uncertain future.

With no family or place to go to in their home country Pakistan, she started approaching different charities in the hope of getting some financial support.

"I got married and came to the UAE in 2002. I have spent the best years of my life in this beautiful country. We have had good times, but in the last six years, we had been going through tough times as my husband's businesses crumbled one after the other," she said. "He ended up selling whatever little property we had in Pakistan to sustain his business and survive somehow."

On November 18, her husband Raja Saeed Ahmad suffered a heart attack and died in her arms at home, in the presence of their kids, she recalled. "He never had any ailment before and looked fine but I know he was under tremendous stress. He was just 50."

Talking about her husband, Nighat said he was a responsible father, a loving husband, and a very caring elder brother to all his siblings.

"Since he was the eldest in his family, he shouldered the responsibility of all his brothers and sisters and spent most of his income on their education, marriages and beyond. He also helped many of his cousins. "But in the last six years, he faced massive losses and none of his siblings came forward to help."

Over the years, whatever little gold Nighat had bought as an investment was then sold to help pay the house rent and school fees of their four children.

"I didn't care about anything because my husband was my priority, and I did everything to ease his stress. But, without him, we are now left in a lurch. Although my children are very bright, they are too young to work. I want them to complete their studies and get respectable jobs."

Zero income

"I know I have to struggle for a couple of years right now as we have no source of income. I have never worked in my life and I am not qualified enough to get a job," Nighat said.

Currently, the family is getting by with the help of their neighbours.

"Our neighbours have been very kind. They give us food items on and off, but my biggest concerns are the school fees of my children and our house. We are now facing eviction and if it does happen, we will have no place to go."

Despite all the struggles her family is going through, Nighat said they remain hopeful that they will be able to ring in more new years in the UAE.

"My children and I feel safe here, this country is our home. All I want is now is to continue living the respectable life that the UAE has blessed us with. This New Year, I pray to God that he may help us survive this tough time," she said. 

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