UAE: Stranded for 3 months, teacher couple continues online classes from South Africa

Sarjedah and Nadeem Hoosain with their five-year-old son in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. The couple's two daughters are in their Sharjah home. — Supplied photo
Sarjedah and Nadeem Hoosain with their five-year-old son in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. The couple's two daughters are in their Sharjah home. — Supplied photo

Dubai - Sharjah-based teachers Sarjedah and Nadeem Hoosain urge authorities to grant them entry back into the UAE to reach their kids


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 8:28 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 9:20 PM

Facing grave financial difficulties and an unending load shedding problem while being stranded in South Africa, a Sharjah-based teacher couple is continuing to teach their students in the UAE online.

South African citizens Sarjedah and Nadeem Hoosain, along with their five-year-old son Zidane, departed from their home in Sharjah on December 19 to attend to pressing family work. Unfortunately, the UAE barred the entry of travellers originating from South Africa into the country two days before their return flight, leaving them stuck in Pietermaritzburg with no return date in sight.

The couple is now appealing to government authorities to grant them exceptional entry back into the UAE to resume their normal lives in Sharjah.

“Despite acute financial difficulties and a constant load shedding problem, we have not missed a single day of class. We had to purchase an additional WiFi router and a generator to overcome the obstacles we have been facing,” Sarjedah told Khaleej Times on a phone call from South Africa.

Sarjedah and Nadeem are both English teachers at Al Ansar International School in Sharjah. “We left Dubai along with our son intending to stay in South Africa only for three weeks. We left on December 19 when the winter break started,” she said. “Our daughters — aged 23 and 18 — both needed our immediate attention,” Nadeem explained.

While her older daughter had to undergo surgery, Sarjedah's second daughter had completed matriculation and required her parents’ help to join university. “If it weren’t for my girls, I wouldn’t have even made the trip,” said a frustrated Sarjedah.

The couple has been residents of the UAE for three years. “Our principal Zakariyya Ellemdeen has gone out of the way to assist us in surmounting this ordeal. He approached the immigration authorities in the UAE. We have even tried approaching the UAE Embassy in Pretoria; unfortunately, the government directives are not in our favour,” she added. According to the most recent update from Emirates Airlines, flights from South Africa will continue to remain suspended until April 8.

“There is no guarantee that the flights may resume after this. The outbound passenger service has been postponed at least thrice till now,” Sarjedah added.

The couple is working on half pay as the school has a strict policy regarding teachers working outside the UAE. “I understand that, but now, we fear we may lose our apartment in Sharjah as we are paying for two sets of household expenses,” she said.

According to the couple, telecommunication systems are still primitive in South Africa. “Due to constant load shedding, we don’t have a stable power or WiFi connection. We installed a new generator to ensure the classes continue without a hitch. We stay in Pietermaritzburg, and that is where the most power cuts happen,” she said.

“On one instance, we had to travel to our friend’s place in search of a stable WiFi connection, and my husband had to conduct his class from a car. I had to sit in a veranda because someone in the house had Covid-19,” said Sarjedah.

On most days, the couple wakes up as early as 3am to ensure their pupils in Sharjah do not suffer. “We cannot afford to go to another country and undergo quarantine for 14 days, pay for living expenses, and three sets of air tickets. Going to another African nation would mean poor connectivity, which means missing 14 days of class. We do not want our students to suffer,” she pointed out.

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