Dubai: A homeless Italian woman in Dubai is fearing for her safety as the stay-home campaign intensifies in the UAE to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Jessica Sirenio ran a fashion boutique in Jumeirah. But as luck would have it, her business went bust within a month of its launch.
Unable to afford recurring costs, she pulled down the shutters in March last year. In November 2019, she also vacated her Al Quoz studio apartment.
Since then the 51-year-old has been living off her friends, but now she’s exhausted all avenues.
“We have been asked to stay home over coronavirus fears but I am practically on the streets and worried about contracting the infection,” said Sirenio, who’s unmarried and has no relatives here.
Sirenio said if she has survived so far it’s because of the generosity of her friends. “They give me food and shelter. One of them has arranged a hotel in Deira where I have been living for the past two weeks. But I have to checkout and have nowhere to go. I have no money. I thought about spending my days in a mall or park and sleeping rough on benches. Sadly these options are ruled out as all malls and parks have been shut down amid the pandemic,” she said.
Originally from Ravenna, a city in the northern Italian province of Emilia Romagna, Sirenio said she sold her assets back home to launch a fashion boutique at an upscale mall in Al Safa, Jumeirah.
“I risked everything. Unfortunately, I was cheated by a company in Italy which disappeared after taking 60,000 Euros (Dh242,128) from me towards advance payment of luxury handbags,” she said.
“This caused a domino effect. I had a store but nothing to sell. Left with no choice I shut shop. But since I had a four-year unbreakable contract with the mall I was still required to pay the rentals.
“As my rent cheques started returning because of insufficient funds, the mall filed a case against me. I also have a travel ban. I am not a criminal. I am just a victim of circumstances. I love the UAE and that’s why I invested all my life’s savings here. I have been stuck in this situation for almost a year and it’s getting from bad to worse with each passing day. I want to put my past behind me and start afresh but for now all I want is a roof over my head,” she said.