Dubai: A Filipina has been judged as the UAE’s best nanny, at the first such award held in the country on Saturday.
“This is really an unexpected blessing,” said Lorina Bunio, 29, who had swapped her everyday casual clothes for a ball gown and sparkling earrings for a ceremony held at a Dubai hotel.
She broke into tears as she walked up to the stage, and held 15-month-old Alexandra in one arm while receiving her trophy.
“I think I give 100 per cent of my best and honesty in my work,” said Bunio. She also won Dh5,000 in prize money, and plans to send it all home to her family.
Two runners-up received cash prizes of Dh2,500 and Dh1,250 — and were all smiles at the ceremony.
Both are also Filipina. “This is just an award, but the love, the support and the trust that they give to me [is enough],” said Danalyn Acuriza, 40, the first runner-up, who looks after two boys.
Besma Abas, 48, the second runner up, has served as a nanny for eight years to a Emirati family.
“I’m very happy that they appreciate me. I didn’t expect that I would win,” she said.
The three winners were among 200 nannies nominated by their sponsor families. Over the past month, 108,000 people had voted for the nannies on the organiser’s Facebook page.
To select the winner, the top ten who won the most votes were interviewed — along with their employer — by a three-member judging panel.
The judges were two veteran British nannies, and a UAE-based dietician.
One of the nannies, Stella Reid, is known for her role in taming unruly children on US reality television series Nanny 911.
Nannies were judged for their ability to provide a caring, safe environment, to teach children healthy eating, and how they supported their learning.
Held by Rise, a Dubai start-up that seeks to help domestic workers, the competition is the first in the country focused on nannies.
Rise claims to be the world’s first wealth management platform aimed at helping Gulf-based migrants save money and learn.
“At the start, we were warned about people being afraid to lose their nannies if they were nominated,” said Padmini Gupta, a former banking executive who serves as the award’s founder.
“We were told that there weren’t enough people that would even care, but from the minute we posted the awards, we had tens of people applying daily.”
With busy careers and large family sizes, many residents and citizens in the UAE are heavily dependent on domestic help.
But, according to Gupta, many nannies in the country gain little recognition for their work, which typically involves long hours for low pay.
And while nannies in the UAE often serve for years, many do not tell their families back home about their jobs.
“Sometimes they just don’t want their families to know, they want to be more private about what they’re doing over here,” said Gupta. “There is a sense of shame by some.”
The start-up boss said that the award aims to help those whose efforts never get lauded at the city’s countless canapes-and-caviar competition ceremonies.
“People that work so hard, that are so integral to our part of life, need to be recognised,” she said.