UAE's best nanny to retire after winning Dh70,000 prize
Dubai - Recognition for all her dedicated years looking after families.
After bagging the 'UAE's Best Nanny' award in 2017, 45-year-old Filipina Melanie Manansala is all set to retire in just five years' time.
"Winning that money last year has allowed me to head home for good, even earlier than planned," she told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.
As applications for the third edition of the award went live this week, Khaleej Times caught up with Manansala to find out how the 2017 win set things in motion for her future.
"Don't get me wrong, I have always been a saver. When I moved to Dubai in 1993 at age 20, l earned just Dh500 a month, but I always put some of my salary aside to support my family. That winning fund was just a bonus. If I didn't win it, I'd probably have to work for another four or five years before going home."
The eldest of five children, Manansala was one of 26 nannies who were shortlisted for last year's award organised by 'rise', a UAE-based support network for migrant workers.
With around 500 applications coming through in all, Manansala said she was hesitant at first when the Dutch family she works for (the Leeksma's) nominated her.
"When they told me, I said I didn't want it because I didn't think I would win. They insisted, though, and said it would be an honour for them if I accepted the gesture. Next thing I knew, I had won."
On November 25, 2017, Manansala, who earns Dh2,600 a month, was crowned as the 'UAE's Best Nanny' and with that title came a starter retirement fund of one million Philippine pesos (around Dh70,000).
"To save that money on my own would have taken about four years; that's if I religiously put away Dh1,500 each month. So to receive it for my work as a nanny was humbling," she said.
This year marks Manansala's 25th year in Dubai. Though she worked as a sewer in a factory before moving to Dubai, her first and only job in the Middle East has been as a live-in nanny.
"The family I am with now is my fourth since living here. I've been with them for four years now; they are my family, but I still talk to all the families I worked for in the past. They even contacted me when I won, one lives in Hong Kong and the other in Australia."
Reminiscing on the difficulties she faced during her first job here, she said the award in 2017 was finally some recognition for all her dedicated years looking after families; families that she now considers her own.
"At the beginning, there were language barriers, times of complete loneliness, I even remember telling my first family that I couldn't even change a diaper. It was scary; it's scary for most nannies at first."
But since then, she has found her "flow", and now acts as a mentor for other young nannies working here for the first time.
With the dream to open her own mini supermarket in the Philippines when she moves back, Manansala said that the retirement fund of one million pesos would help her achieve that.
"I don't want to retire and just stop. If I stop working my body will stop working, so that is the next step for me, my own shop. I'll go from looking after families in Dubai, to being the owner of a place where families come to shop. That makes me smile. I think God planned this for me."
Nominate your nannyWith applications for the upcoming edition of the 'UAE's Best Nanny' award open till November 10, why not let your nanny know how appreciated she is?
Visit http://bit.ly/nannyawards and post a picture of your nanny and tell us why she deserves the title.