Ayesha. The school helper on a visit visa

Before we talk, I am qualified to teach in a nursery school, I can speak good English, but my husband was in an accident, and the job I had back home did not pay good, so I have come to Dubai to try my luck. Please note that I never want to be as housemaid. It may be the only option now.

And you have not found a job yet? You are on a visit visa?

Yes. It seems difficult to get a job because of what I am. You see, I am a Christian from Pakistan. We are minority there, and we find it difficult to live every day, because sometimes, there are problems in the town. And some young boys will come and damage the church or the school. But the new government is trying hard to help both Christians and Hindu people. But I came here, not because of that, but because I needed to feed the hungry people at home. My husband cannot work, now it is just me. And now I am in Dubai, all alone.

My visit visa expiry is in 2 weeks, then I will renew and pay for an extension. But for that there is an agent charge. Everything costs money. I am staying with a friend, she is from my town, and she is letting me stay for free, and I pay for the food a little bit.

She is telling me that I will never find a nursery teaching job, even a children care taker’s job in a school. I should simply try for housemaid’s job. But how? The problem is that I have spoken on the phone to at least four families from Pakistan, but the moment they realize that I am older than other young girls who are also looking, they don’t want me any more, it seems. I am 40+. People today want young, strong, help at home. Or at school, or anywhere. But I’ll stay on and try…

So, you are not giving up? You’ll renew your visa and try some more?

I will try for this one more month, I will do my best. Some of my friends say Dubai is very difficult if you cannot find the right job, but I cannot see the bad side. People are kind. Food is not too expensive if you know how to shop. In the first two weeks, I have been here three months now, in two weeks, my friend showed me how to shop in Satwa, and I found good but cheap food. You have to look in the discount section, you will find items there at very good prices.

There are always good deals available where I live, in Satwa. Like how I can call my family for cheap, how I can buy rice and curry cheap if I wait till a little late night, like that. Some of the restaurants are very nice about discounts. Some of the bakers in the area just will give me a free loaf of bread. They are my daughter’s age. I think they know I don’t have a job.

Before we agreed to meet in three weeks time (just before her visa extension expired), we shot off a few rapid fires…

So, you are happy with your situation now, for the time being?

Yes, but I need to eat better. The Doctor back home told me if I don’t eat good food, I will get diabetes. What he means is to avoid junk food, avoid sugar, and I am OK with that.

What is good? What do you eat?

It is difficult on my budget and my friend’s budget. We eat basic food – daal chaawal (lentils and rice), chicken is a great idea because it can last a few days, we also buy a lot of rotis (indian bread). We also eat food from tins like beans. But mostly we try and find vegetables that are on sale. You’ll see a lot of people like me in the supermarket looking for discounted food, for vegetables on sale. That’s the idea.

In spite of all your problems, having to look for a job, spending money on visas, why stay on in Dubai?

Main thing is I feel that there is no corruption in Dubai, if I deserve a job, I will get that job, no matter what it is. I also know that I can save a little bit and send money to my family. Dubai offers a lot more options than in my home country. I really like working with young children, and I hope a door opens somewhere for that opportunity.