LIVE IN A RENT - FREE HOME 

There's nothing more rewarding than giving back and making a difference in the lives of people in this community.  Leaving behind a challenging year and starting 2021 on a better note, Al Ghurair Properties would like to give back to the community by providing a rent free home to the most deserving families.  

After careful consideration, the campaign has shortlisted five families from the many entries it received. Every struggle is unique and it is now up to you dear readers to decide which family deserves to live rent-free for a full year. 

 

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Here are the stories of five residents – Hemant Jain, Clint Furtado, Sally Fernandes, Jamsheera and Mark Anthony Flores – in their own words. 

A YEAR OF SORROW

The pandemic turned Hemant Jain’s seemingly content life in Dubai upside down. In June 2020 he lost his job. If that wasn’t enough, he also lost his father to the Covid-19. “I was in Dubai and he was India,” says Jain. “It is just a three-hour hour flight, but I couldn’t even go to see him.” Jain found another job in July, but lost that too in a matter of months.

He is now desperately looking for work. “Living in Dubai is not easy when you don’t have a job,” says the father of two. “It’s expensive with rent being the biggest expense followed by school fees. I want to stay in Dubai and be successful because this is a land of opportunities.” Jain believes

he can get his life back on track if he can hold on for just one more year in Dubai. “If I get that much time, I know I will be successful.  I have hope in my heart despite the doom and gloom around,” he says.

A DAUGHTERS CRY FOR HELP

For Sally Fernandes and her family of four - mother, husband and daughter -- the pandemic was devastating in more ways than one.

Her three and half year old daughter was born with cerebral palsy and has been on oxygen support since birth. “She is currently on home ventilator,” says Fernandes. The child was in hospital between March and November last year. The medical expenses were an added burden on the already struggling family.  “She underwent two surgeries that cost a lot,” explains Fernandes. “She is stable, but her lungs are damaged. My husband also lost his job due to Covid. It’s very difficult for us to manage and any help would be a blessing.”

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

With dreams in his eyes, Clint Furtado came to Dubai in 2018 to make a life for himself and his family. Things were looking rosy for the couple when they moved to Sharjah in a year. Then the pandemic struck. “It started off with delayed salaries and deductions,” says Furtado. “Finally in August 2020, my company let go of me. That’s when our troubles really started. We had to dip into our savings and borrow from family to make ends meet and pay rent. I kept trying for a job.” It’s been seven months since Furtado lost his job. He is now close to getting one. However, the new job entails moving to another place in the UAE.

“This initiative could help us stand on our feet again because we don’t know how we will manage our accommodation,” says Furtado. “Right now we have moved in with our relatives as we can’t afford to pay rent anymore.”

CHEATED BY FATE

Fate played tricks with Jamsheera, a teacher, even before the pandemic. She had resigned from her previous school for a better salary because the family of four had financial issues. Her husband worked for a company that used to hold his salary for some months and they were always dependent on hers. “When I got a good opportunity in another school, I decided to take it up,” she recounts. “I got the offer letter, but then in February 2020, the pandemic struck and schools were closed. There was an option where schools could make an agreement with new recruits to hold the employment till the situation improve. The new school told me that I could join from the next term in September.”  Unfortunately, her husband was put on unpaid leave around that time. “We had so many issues with expenses, particularly rent,” says Jamsheera. "We applied for support from social initiatives and got food. Our friends also lent us money unconditionally.” In September, Jamsheera got an opportunity in another school and is now working there. “We haven’t been able to make up financially after having no income for so long, so getting some respite from rent would be of great help,” she says.

THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE

Mark Anthony Flores went into depression after being made redundant.

“It was June 10. I received an email that broke my heart,” says Flores. “I was made redundant. I became a prisoner in my own cell.” Flores recalls asking God, “Why me? All I wanted was to be a good provider for my family.” Difficult days. Tough weeks. Weary months. Flores slipped into depression. “I lost the desire to make my family’s happiness my utmost priority,” he says.

One day he was browsing old family videos and saw a clip of his kids. “It was at that moment when I realised that I’m blessed, loved and there is always hope,” he says

His wife is an essential worker and continued supporting the family in those dark days. “My wife is my fortress, my rock,” he says. “She had to step up and be the superwoman she is. I salute her for doing her work wholeheartedly as an essential worker, most especially during these trying times. She never gave up on me.”