Screenings held to thank domestic workers in Dubai

A group of young Indian expatriates has decided to show their appreciation for domestic workers by putting on a free movie night for them.

The charitable group Shukran Workers hosts an evening film for domestic workers in Dubai. Delores Johnson / The National
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DUBAI // A group of young Indian expatriates is showing their appreciation for domestic workers by hosting free movie nights for them.

Maryam Usman Khan, one of the organisers, said the workers were unsung heroes and deserved to be treated as such.

“We realised that many domestic workers earn a minimum wage from which they have to sustain themselves in Dubai and also a family back home,” said the 22-year-old media buyer.

“This leaves them with almost no budget to spend on anything apart from bare essentials. They are also emotionally drained as they are always worried about two households and their job.”

Ms Khan and her friends call their group Shukran Workers.

Yesterday, the latest screening for the workers was the Robin Williams comedy Patch Adams.

Ms Khan said snacks such as popcorn, cold drinks and other gifts were offered at the screening. The group believed cinema allowed the workers to escape their routines, if even for a short time.

“So far we have organised two successful movie nights. The response was phenomenal,” Ms Khan said.

About 70 to 100 people had turned up for the events at a Bur Dubai community hall. “We now have a waiting list of people who want to come back for the next screening.”

Lakshmi, who has been a domestic worker in Dubai for 13 years, said she hoped more sponsors would allow their employees to attend.

The 45-year-old said the last event she attended was “one my best days in my life”.

“My sponsors were kind enough to allow me to attend the movie night,” she said. “They gave me extra money for taxi and food.”

Gangaram, a 34-year-old cleaner in Dubai, said the Shukran movie nights reminded him of his love for film.

“I used to be a regular cinemagoer back home and never missed any film,” he said.

“But in Dubai I have been so busy in my work that I totally forgot about my passion.

“I am thankful to the Shukran team and my employer for providing me the opportunity. I am now looking forward if I can go again.”

He said his employer had encouraged him to attend.

Not all workers, however, were that fortunate.

“It all depends on preferences of the employers. We’ve come across few who have welcomed the idea whole heartedly and others who needed more convincing,” said Ms Khan.

“Each employer has his own set of reasons to welcome or reject the idea.”

For more information on the movie screenings, contact 050 135 1256.