UAE residents grapple with a sense of loss triggered by COVID-19

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Indian expat in UAE Prakash Devadiga, says that the pandemic has turned his life turned upside down.
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Dubai: Prakash Devadiga, 40, from Mangalore, India has been a UAE resident for close to two decades. He had a decent job and salary. But the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered his dreams. “I was working for a private company for a salary of Dh7,000 per month as a sales representative. I lost my job during the pandemic and my life turned upside down,” he said.

Devadiga lives in the UAE with his Pakistani wife and two children, aged 11 and 8, both of whom have Indian passports. Owing to the loss of his job, he has not been able to pay his children’s school fees. He said his children have not been able to attend the e-learning sessions owing to non-payment of school fees. “Every year in February, my company gives me a loan to pay my children’s school fees. They deduct a certain amount every month. This year unfortunately due to the pandemic I could not avail of this benefit. As a result, the school fees have not been settled.”

Denied visa to India

Not just this, his wife being a Pakistani, has been denied a visa to India. “So I cannot even take my family back home. I cannot leave my wife and children here to fend for themselves and return home. The pandemic has left me at a loss. I feel stuck and helpless.”

Devadiga is not alone. The pandemic has left a void in many people’s lives. Whether it has been a breavement, separation from family due to borders closing or just loss of routine, there’s an emptiness many are feeling in their lives.

Lost my confidence, faith and job

Shuaib Saeyed, 30, hailing from the Indian state of Karnataka and who worked as a sales representative in UAE, says he is very stressed. “I have lost my confidence, my faith and my job. There is uncertainty looming all over and I am at a loss as to where I should pick up the pieces from.”

Saeyed said he has not been paid a salary for the last six months. “My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I had to fly her down on a special flight as she was living here in the UAE with me. Her surgery was done in India and she has returned to the UAE now. But all this cost money and I had to take a loan to repay this. Now I am sitting on a fat loan, no job, no money, my family visas have been cancelled. What do I do?”

He added his mother needs to have four more chemotherapy sessions but does not know how he is going to get the funding for it. “I don’t know where to start. What should I do first? Should I look for a job first, get my family’s visas done or should I get my mother’s chemotherapy organised?”

Most difficult situation

Akhtar Anwar Khan, 30, from Mumbai whose wife is pregnant with their second child and is due anytime now, said the pandemic has put him and his family in the most difficult situation. Khan, who worked as a public relations officer, also lost his job in March. Khan said the pandemic has left him almost penniless and the financial loss has been overwhelming. His last job fetched him a salary of Dh10,000. “I was working as a PRO and because of the current situation I am jobless. My wife is due to deliver, I don’t know what I will do.”

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Indian expat Akhtar Anwar Khan says that the pandemic has put him and his family in the most difficult situation.

For Filipino expat Debrie Dela Cruz, 33, said, “I feel a sense of loss of control over things around me. The future looked so unpredictable. I did not know what was going to happen next and that felt like I was losing control over my life and things around me.”

Mental strength

According to Dr Mohamed Yousaf, specialist-psychiatrist, Aster Clinic in Mutheena, a sense of loss can leave one sad and depressed. But one must learn to accept reality and find a solution to a problem. “It requires mental strength and it is possible,” he said.

Yousaf said in the past months, there seemed to be a great sense of fear in the minds of people over COVID-19 and its impact. “This fear creted a sense of loss in itself as it limited people in many ways – whether going out in the public or socialising. But that fear has come down now. Many people are learning to deal with the pandemic much better.”

How to deal with sense of loss

7. Seek doctor’s help if you feel depressed or anxious

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