Dubai: We all have heroes and sometimes we call them Dad. As we honour them on Father’s Day for their vital role as key bread winner in the family, we also admire fathers who – amidst the pandemic – have not only taken the responsibility to provide for the family but also taken the cudgels to look after the community.
Muhammed Isthiaq Raziq, 43, a father of two, is a volunteer at the Sri Lankan Welfare Association and Community Development Authority of Dubai. Much of his time is now spent in serving as project leader in dry ration distribution for distressed Sri Lankan expats.
Raziq, a banker by profession, described his volunteer work as humbling. His parental instinct has become valuable in implementing various community projects.
“Since the beginning of April, I’ve been working with volunteers sourcing dry rations and distributing them to the community. We assist distressed families, children and expecting mothers who are unable to pay for their medical expenses by facilitating special discounts during their hospitalisation,” he told Gulf News.
Volunteering is also a form of parenting for Raziq, who explains to his son and daughter the importance of serving the people. He said: “The good values which we demonstrate to our kids will surely help them grow into better human beings. I love and adore my kids and I want them to learn at an early age how to support fellow humanity.”
Discipline and devotion
British dad Dave Pryce, 63, described himself as strict in his early years of parenting. Brought up by parents with strong morals and a clear definition of what is right and wrong, Pryce has passed on the same regimen to his two children who became successful in their own right.
Nowadays, Pryce has devoted his time in running a support group to help people affected by the pandemic.
He founded Filipino Support Group Middle East (FSGME) as a non-sectarian, non-political group intended to offer help and advice to Filipinos (and other nationalities too) who are facing difficult situation because job loss, shortage of food, rent problems and other issues.
“The group, formed last month, now has over 8,000 members and a long list of people needing help,” said Pryce, adding: “Initially, it was a support to my wife, Melani, who volunteered with Dubai Police in the fight against COVID-19. Then we provided food packs to members of the community who had no money for food and other necessities. Eventually, we set up a Facebook support group to coordinate and deliver relief to greater number of badly affected people. This has evolved to a wider community and we try to help all nationalities if we can.”
Aside from delivering food aid, Pryce has also been active in bringing to attention complaints by several residents who are either being “evicted” or “harassed” by their sublessors over unpaid rents.
“Our aim is to set up a support network of professionals and volunteers to help people overcome some of their problems. If you need help, you just may have come to the right place so reach out to us,” he noted.
Filipino dad Cesar Julius Parroco, Jr., 48, meanwhile, has been crucial in creating the largest community barter group in Dubai.
With over 100,000 members, Amicable Barter Community in Dubai (ABCD) has become not only an online platform where residents exchanged items but also to deliver goods and grocery items to families badly-hit by the pandemic.
“My wife, Lou, and I started an online bartering community on Facebook where people can trade off their preloved items into daily essentials. This bartering platform turned into a helping, sharing and giving platform after its members bartered their pre-loved items into grocery packs to help other residents who have lost their jobs recently,” Parroco said.
Working from the frontline
Dr Omer Amin Zaki, 38, has been working in the front line since the coronavirus outbreak. Patient care means spending longer hours at the hospital but when he goes home he also finds time to spend time with his wife and three daughters.
“When the pandemic started, our responsibilities as medical professionals increased. It’s our duty and we have an oath to serve the community regardless of the consequences,” said Dr Zaki, who works in the Orthopedics Department of Prime Hospital in Dubai.
“But I also never forget my family. I do my best every day by taking all the precautions and I never hesitate to play with my three children and spend time with my wife and mother,” he added.
Dr Motassim Al Roosan, otorhinolaryngology consultant at University Hospital Sharjah, has also been balancing work and family life.
“My kids at home, I teach them about the new norm. I also support them with their school lessons and I show them how to practice good hand hygiene and to wear masks,” he said.
Dr Al Roosan also show exhibit fatherhood at work. “At the onset of COVID outbreak, everyone was afraid because there were not enough information about the virus. But I told my team to not be afraid and treat and manage each patient with precaution,” he said.
“There was one time that we had to do an urgent tracheostomy (surgical procedure on the throat) for a critical patient with high morbidity. The staff and nurses were initially afraid but I told them to prepare and wear all precautions and we finished the surgery and everything went fine,” he added.
The pandemic, meanwhile, has brought a father and son physically apart but emotionally bonded.
Kent Gambal, 26, shared: “My dad has been my inspiration in becoming a nurse. My dad and I are bravely fighting COVID-19. He (Rodel Gamba, 52) as emergency nurse at Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services and me as staff nurse at NMC Hospital, Al Ain.”
“Due to our busy schedules at work, we have not been able to see each other for months, but we always speak over the phone, connect on social media and share our experiences and advices on how to fight this pandemic in the best possible way,” he added.
Kent also look at his father as his personal hero. He said: “Life has never been easy for me when I was a kid. My dad endured many sacrifices to raise five children. Many times we lacked resources but he strived hard to make our life better.”
“Because of his hard work and caring attitude, I’m proud to say that I made a good choice in serving the community in the medical field,” he added.