Dubai: With three children to feed, an Abu Dhabi nursery teacher was asked to go on unpaid leave.
It was tough but there was no time to complain, instead, she thought of ways she could make ends meet. Now, the educator delivers fruits and vegetables to homes.
Peters (name was changed upon request) taught at a nursery in the Capital but it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers were asked to take unpaid leave starting April at the institute.
Her monthly allowance got reduced to Dh500, an amount that is not enough to pay her rent and daily expenses, especially with three children, ages 12, 11 and a 20-month-old toddler.
Currently the sole earner of the family, Peters decided to post an online advertisement about her fruits and vegetables delivery services.
“I saw a similar ad on Facebook from a woman in Dubai so I thought I would do the same,” the Belgian national said.
Peters’ husband works in the events industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic. “He is not getting any work. All the events he was working on have been cancelled,” she said.
UAE community united amidst pandemic
Now, Peters’ day has changed from waking up to teach young children to heading to the Mina Vegetable and Fruits Markets in Abu Dhabi every afternoon.
She hand picks produce for families who make orders from across the emirates.
“People are very happy with my selection. I pick fruits like oranges, watermelons and mangoes that I would pick for myself,’ she said.
Peters gets around eight orders per day and sometimes she schedules orders throughout the week depending on the location.
"With Ramadan people want their order before iftar time so I have to make sure I deliver on time," she said.
People avail Peters’ services because they have a “personal touch” that other commercial delivery services might not.
Some orders come in from people living in areas that are far from the market, like Khalifa City and Reem Island. There are also those who do not want to visit public places during the COVID-19 outbreak and would rather have someone deliver the produce to their doorstep.
However, “people who just want to support place most of the orders”, Peters said.
Her service has gotten a positive response online and people have repeatedly made orders. She credits the “sense of community” for her success.
“There are great people in Abu Dhabi and Dubai who are jumping in and trying to help. The sense of community is very strong in the UAE,” she said.
‘Barely getting by’
Talking about the struggles some are going through because of the pandemic, Peters said that people are coming up with creative ways to make ends meet.
“I am lucky I have a car so I can do this, there are some who are not able to do so,” she said.
Peters noted that some people are asking for financial help online instead.
“Do not beg online, it is illegal. I knew I would not do that. Try to find something to do around you to get by during this hard time,” she said.
Peters said that she has not yet made enough to pay her rent but hopes that her new venture would eventually help her do so.
“I am barely getting by daily,” she said, adding that she continues to remain hopeful.