Melanie Manansala, crowned 2017 UAE’s Best Nanny, with her employers’ daughters, Olivia and Phileine. Image Credit: Courtesy: Melanie Manansala

Dubai: A Filipina maid named as the UAE’s ‘Best Nanny’ said the award is God’s reward for all her sacrifices and hardships she went through the years.

Melanie Manansala, 44, bagged the award on November 25 at a ceremony organised by Rise, a wealth management platform for migrants. The award aims to show appreciation to all hard-working nannies in the UAE.

Manansala has been working as a nanny in the UAE for the past 24 years. She came to Dubai when she was 19 to work to support her family.

“I stopped going to school when I was 17 to work. Our father left us when we were young. We would go for days with very little food, sometimes we’d have porridge, sometimes nothing,” Manansala told Gulf News, choking back her tears.

The eldest of five children, Manansala took her first job working as a nanny.

In exchange, her employers paid for her education. As life’s demands increased, Manansala left school and worked as a merchandiser and then a tailor in a factory.

She came to Dubai in 1993 so she could earn more and send her siblings to school.

Salary: Dh550

“My salary 24 years ago was Dh550. But I was able to support my brothers and sisters. I didn’t think of settling down or starting my own family then because I knew I wouldn’t be able to support my mum, brothers and sisters then,” Manansala said. 

“I had to sacrifice so much, God knows that.”

To save money, she would go on vacation every four years instead of every two years.

On bended knees

She battled loneliness on her knees.

“I used to cry a lot at first. But then I would just pray and ask God to help me and guide me through life.”

Now working with her fourth employer, a family of four from The Netherlands, Manansala said she is one of the luckiest in the world.

“My employers treat me as part of their family. They encourage me to do better in life and to pursue my dreams,” Manansala said.

Jelle Leeksma, Manansala’s boss who nominated her for the award, described her as “very positive towards work”.

“We can always count on her. She always goes an extra mile with work and she has initiative,” Leeksma told Gulf News.

“She’s a really loving and caring nanny. We wouldn’t trust anybody with our children more than her. She is the perfect the nanny,” he added.

Leeksma said Manansala teaches his two daughters, aged three and five, to be independent. This and all her other qualities make her a great addition to their family.

Part of family

“I think having a nanny is an enrichment to your life. She helps you raise your children, care for the house, and your family is also part of her life. It has to go both ways. She can make your life better, but you also have to take an extra step to make her life better,” he said.

Because of the recognition, Manansala now has a starter retirement fund of one million pesos (around Dh73,000). She also won a ticket to the Philippines from Air Arabia, a bank account, Rise child care courses and more.

“I’d like to think that this is God’s reward for all the hard work and sacrifice I’ve made in life. Now, I know I have something for my future once I retire,” Manansala said.