By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO
Imagine that the only food that you could provide for your family were leftovers that a host of strangers had already eaten. The issue of hygiene would be foremost in most parentsâ€™ minds since children, especially, are more susceptible to disease than adults are. But what if you did not have a choice other than to feed your family tainted leftovers? The shame and humiliation of not being able to provide the basic human necessity of food to your loved ones would drive most people to the brink of despair.
For Mohammed, an Indian father of three who lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), feeding leftover food to his wife and three young daughters has been their only option for survival. He revealed his ordeal to a local newspaper in the sheikdom. For the past year and a half, Mohammedâ€™s only recourse has been to collect leftover meals from a wedding hall near the familyâ€™s home. Having befriended some of the workers at the hall the family receives alerts whenever a wedding is held. Then once the guests leave, the family collects leftover food from the celebration. The food is stored in plastic bags and frozen. It sustains the family, but just barely, until the next wedding takes place.
The family lives in a dilapidated apartment that is falling apart. Their two school aged daughters attend school but are often mocked because their uniforms are in tatters. It has been almost too much to bear as Mohammed confessed to contemplating suicide on many occasions. The love of his daughters and worrying about their future is the only thing that has stopped him from ending his life. â€œMy three daughters, aged nine, seven and two push me to keep trying my best to survive,â€ he shares.
The story of Mohammad is one that plays out all across the region as poor laborers struggle to meek out a living amidst the glittering shopping malls and towers of the wealthy Gulf region. However, in Mohammadâ€™s case, he had a series of extenuating circumstances that magnified the struggles he was already grappling with. He was lured by a friend into investing in a shady business deal that wiped out his personal savings and caused him to become indebted to a loan shark. Trouble back home around the same time, forced Mohammad to bring his wife and family to live with him in the UAE.
There is a glimmer of hope for the family to get out of their precarious situation. A local UAE charity called Valley of Love has begun offering charitable services to the family. However, the familyâ€™s circumstances are still dire. Citizens and expatriates in the UAE are looking for ways to help the family. The Valley of Love organization is currently accepting donations on the familyâ€™s behalf.