With husband earning only Dh20 daily back home, expat came to UAE

Pameela proudly stood side-by-side with senior government officials, CEOs, captains of the industry, and other workers

by

Angel Tesorero

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(Photo: Angel Tesorero/Khaleej Times)
(Photo: Angel Tesorero/Khaleej Times)

Published: Fri 24 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 Dec 2023, 3:22 PM

Pameela Vembolamala Krishnan, 51, came to the UAE in 2010 to support her husband who was barely earning Dh20 daily as a labourer in India. Their two children were about to enter college but they could not even afford to buy basic necessities.

It was a hard decision but, given their circumstances, became easy and practical: leave for the UAE – home to millions of migrant workers – and work.

Pameela was employed as a cleaner at Canadian Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi. For 13 years, she showed her dedication to work and, because of this, was commended as one of the winners in the outstanding workforce category of the inaugural Emirates Labour Market Award held in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Holding a blue and white trophy and wearing a simple white printed dress, Pameela proudly stood side-by-side with senior government officials, CEOs, captains of the industry, and other workers.

Pameela Vembolamala Krishnan receiving the award from Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Special Affairs Advisor at the Presidential Court, and MoHRE Minister Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar (Photo: Angel Tesorero/Khaleej Times)
Pameela Vembolamala Krishnan receiving the award from Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Special Affairs Advisor at the Presidential Court, and MoHRE Minister Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar (Photo: Angel Tesorero/Khaleej Times)

“It was a moment of joy; a validation of my years of hard work and sacrifices. It was a day of celebration,” Pameela, who speaks only Malayalam, told Khaleej Times through an interpreter.

Sudden hardship

It was a celebration and personal victory indeed for Pameela who has been gainfully employed in the UAE for over a decade. She did not mention her monthly salary but she said it was more than enough to help put food on the table and also to provide proper education for her children.

Her eldest daughter, Gayatri, who is now 27, holds a master’s degree in economics; while his 26 year-old son, Vishnu is an accountant. Both are married and have one child each.

“Looking back, everything seemed to happen so fast but, of course, there were so many challenges along the way,” Pameela said, adding: “The most obvious and biggest challenge was for me coming to a foreign land and I could only speak Malayalam.”

The biggest blow in Pamela’s life came in 2017, when her husband passed away –leaving her as the sole breadwinner in the family.

“I was devastated but I had to move on and remain focused on my goal of providing a better future for my family. Thankfully, there is a huge Malayalam community in the UAE and my friends and co-workers became by second family here,” continued Pameela, who is originally from Kerala.

Recognition

Work was menial but Pameela, who previously worked as a domestic helper in India, did not let it become routine as she found passion in her job. “Even though I’m just a humble cleaner, I’d like to think of myself as part of the healthcare industry,” she said, noting her 8am-4pm duty involves making sure that every nook and cranny of the health centre is free of germs and infection.

Mubarak Bin Falah, CEO of Canadian Medical Centre (CMC) Group, personally commended Prameela. He said: “Pameela has consistently demonstrated commitment and passion in her job, most of the time beyond our expectations. Her tireless efforts have not only had a profound impact on our company but have also left a lasting impression on UAE labour market as a whole.”

Mubarak Bin Falah, CEO of Canadian Medical Centre Group (Supplied photo)
Mubarak Bin Falah, CEO of Canadian Medical Centre Group (Supplied photo)

Pameela was nominated by CMC for the award that is under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Vice-President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, and organised by the Ministry of Human Resource and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

MoHRE Minister Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar earlier explained the award is aimed at recognising the efforts of the private sector and highlighting successful practices in the UAE labour market, including improving the work environment and protecting employees’ rights and welfare.

Future plan

Pameela’s two children are currently in the UAE to share the joy with their mother. Pameela said she has no plans of going back and retiring in India yet. “I’m still young and strong. I will continue to work,” she noted.

Aside from achieving her dream of seeing her daughter and son receiving university degrees, Pameela has also built a two-bedroom house for her family in Palakkad, Kerala. “Now, my only responsibility is to pay off that loan,” she said.

As for the future, Pameela said she is planning to build a simple but welcoming old-age home in her hometown. She said: “I found a very welcoming country when I came here as a migrant worker. The UAE has given a lot to me and my family. When I return, I also want to share the blessings I received here with my folks back home.”

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