Soniya Sameera never would have imagined that her troubles would begin after finally becoming pregnant after ten years of trying to conceive.
The 32-year-old microbiologist from India, came to the UAE in 2009 and had worked hard, being promoted from an assistant at an insurance company to assistant manager at another insurance company in Dubai. Her husband was a gym trainer and while he lost his job, the family still managed to keep afloat.
Their life was complete, they thought, after she became pregnant with twin boys last year.
“That was sadly the beginning of all my financial problems.” From the start, Ms Sameera had a difficult pregnancy. “I was bleeding heavily and the water levels of one of the twins was low.”
She required complete bed rest but her employers found that inconvenient. “They kept harassing me and calling me every day” - it reached to the point where they forced her to resign.
“They called me in and I literally cried and begged them and asked them to not fire me.”
Ms Sameera had taken out a loan to pay for her sister’s wedding and was paying the rent for their one-bedroom apartment in Deira.”
She said the company told her she was a liability and they were not willing to continue paying for her insurance.
Without health insurance and a job, Ms Sameera went back to India. “I went against my doctor’s orders and went back home because it is cheaper there to deliver.”
The day she arrived, she was admitted into the hospital where she remained until she delivered her twins on July 20 last year.
Sadly only one of the twins survived and the other, Armaan, remained in [intensive care] for a month.
“They were born weighing about 1 kilos [each] and Armaan’s lungs were very weak.”
While in the hospital, two of the four cheques that she had deposited for her rent had bounced.
“The hospital in India wanted Dh30,000 so all the money we had went to that and our accounts were empty.”
As soon as she and her new-born, returned to Dubai, they were arrested at the airport and taken to the police station over the bounced cheques. “Thankfully they saw that I had a baby and saw I was breastfeeding so they let me go and took my passport as guarantee.”
The family were finally reunited but her visa has expired, her passport is being held by the authorities and they are homeless. “We are staying at a relative’s apartment but he is leaving in two weeks and we will have nowhere to go. The bank will also file a case against me because I haven’t paid the installment.”
Her sister also urgently needs a kidney transplant because both her kidneys are not functioning. “Since I’m the eldest sister, I need to support her but I can’t now without a job.”
Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of Zakat and Social Services at Dar Al Ber, “Soniya needs around Dh40,000 to pay off her rent and loan installment. She also desperately needs to help her sister who will die without a transplant. She also needs support in finding a job. She has up to eight-year experience in medical insurance and is not idly waiting around for charity however she currently needs support.”
Soniya sent an email to her previous employers to reinstate her but they have refused and instead have cancelled her visa. “I want a job to pay off all my loans and get our lives in order.”