Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 12 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi mother helps to feed hundreds hit hard by Covid-19

Mona Mohammed has dedicated her days to supporting those less fortunate

A community champion has pledged more than half of her income to deliver essential food supplies to embattled residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mona Mohammed, 39, said she was determined to lend a helping hand in order to give back to a country which has provided her with "so much".

The 39-year-old moved to the UAE from the Philippines in 2003. She was naturalised and became a UAE national after marrying an Emirati, who she later divorced.

The mother-of-four from Abu Dhabi receives a monthly alimony payment of Dh8,000 of which she spends more than Dh5,000 to buy food and necessities for those in need.

I honestly am not a rich person and I am unemployed but this country has given me so much. This is the least I can do

Mona Mohammed

She has been donating food parcels, containing goods such as rice, oil, salt, flour and dates, to those less fortunate for several years, but has seen a huge surge in demand since the Covid-19 outbreak.

“I have a list and before I used to deliver food to ten or twenty, now there are more than 500 every few weeks. So many have lost their jobs and have no money to buy food.”

Ms Mohammed personally goes to each of these people to deliver the food. She leaves her home at 10am and tries to deliver to as many people as he can before stay-home orders come into operation.

Most of the families she helps live in Abu Dhabi but she has travelled to other Emirates to deliver vital supplies.

“I usually come to know about them through word of mouth or through Facebook. They are mostly Filipinos," she said.

"There are too money who have lost their salary and most of them work for cleaning companies. The numbers are too much. They have lost their salaries and have no money and cannot go out.

“I honestly am not a rich person and I am unemployed but this country has given me so much. This is the least I can do. We should not wait for the government to give us, we can cooperate and help each other. If we co-operate we can help a lot of people.”

Ms Mohammed does not collect donations and all the food she has distributed comes from her own pocket.

“This makes me feel better. Life is short and fleeting. I wish others who are like me, married to Emiratis, can also help others," Ms Mohammed said.

"There are many in need right now and I keep imagining if I were in their place and had no money and no one to help. A bag of rice can do a lot.

"If we co-operate, we can help so many. We should support the government, which is busy right now fighting this pandemic and not just keep asking from them. They have given us so much already.”

Christina Gimpaya, 38, who used to work as a live-out nanny, is one of hundreds receiving essential aid.

Her employers, fearing the risk of contracting the virus, relieved her of her duties.

She lives in a room shared by eight others who have also all lost their jobs.

“There are so many of us here and most of us have lost of our jobs. We have no money so we can not buy food,” said the single mother-of-one.

Mona Mohammed's sons help sort out food supplies to be distributed to those in need. Victor Besa/The National    
Mona Mohammed's sons help sort out food supplies to be distributed to those in need. Victor Besa/The National    

“Most of us are the sole breadwinners of our families so we can not send money back home to the Philippines. Our families back home are in a bad situation.”

She like the rest often depend of the charity of people.

“We share everything but sometimes there is nothing so we will buy bread for Dh1 or Dh2 from the supermarket downstairs and divide it. We need to survive,” she said.

Margnit Solanoy, 37 has a two-year-old baby living with her in a room she shares with six other people. She often goes without food to feed her baby.

When she ran out of diapers and formula milk, she appealed for help on Facebook.

“I used to work for a cleaning company. We are paid according to the number of clients we have. Now there are no clients,” she said.

“I don’t have anything and we are all here with no jobs and no money. I am trying to survive, my son and me. There are so many of us here,” she said speaking of the six-floor apartment building she shares with hundreds of others.

Updated: May 3, 2020 10:34 AM

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