Janet Osei
Janet Osei Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: There has been a global pandemic, borders have been closed, families have been separated. Yet, this Ghanaian woman in Sharjah has found love in the hearts of UAE residents.

“And that is what makes the UAE community all so special,” says British expatriate Simone Haynes who is looking after stranded Ghanian woman, Janet Osei, 29, at her house in Dubai.

There are probably several humanitarian stories from the pandemic in UAE, but for Simone, Janet’s tale will always be a special one. After all, the two have bonded really well, with Janet being looked after like a family member at Simone’s residence.

“When Janet arrived in the UAE on January 22, she never imagined her life would change drastically. She came on a tourist visa and soon found a job as a cleaner in February. Three days into work, Janet was let go from her job,” said Simone.

“Added to this, in March, Janet was forced to leave her company accommodation and a share bed-space with 11 others at another labour accommodation.”

Her ordeal did not end there. Janet, along with other fellow Ghanians, found herself stranded outside a park while waiting for help from the relevant authorities so she could travel home.

A month into her jobless state, Janet found out to her utter surprise that she was pregnant. Luck was in her favour and she happened to meet Simone who pretty much came to her rescue like an angel in disguise.

From keeping her in her house and tending to her needs, to getting her friends to buy Janet baby clothes and bags, Simone has looked after Janet like her own. “That is the least I could do for a stranded, pregnant woman in Dubai. When I heard about Janet’s situation, I drove up to her accommodation in Sharjah. I dropped off some supplies for her. Next day, I took her for a COVID-19 test at a drive-through centre. When her results came negative, I took a decision. I decided to bring her home.”

Janet said: “I was overwhelmed. Simone gave shelter to an abandoned, pregnant woman. The more I say about her, the less it is,” said an emotional Janet.

No sooner did Simone’s friends found out about Janet than they started dropping off baby clothes, vitamin supplements, bags and balloons. “The intention was to make her feel safe, secure and loved, especially in her pregnant state.”

Good news came soon when the Consulate General of Ghana in Dubai arranged repatriation flights to carry stranded Ghanaians back home. Simone booked Janet’s ticket on the second repatriation flight on June 16, to Accra, the capital of Ghana. “There was no seat available on the first repatriation flight on June 12,” Simone said.

As fate would have it, just a day before the flight, Janet started bleeding. A scan revealed that unfortunately, her baby had died. She was six months' pregnant.

Janet said she did not know that she was pregnant when she came here looking for a job. “I won’t have left home otherwise," said Janet. She was admitted to a private hospital in Dubai and the hospital bill was paid off by Simone. “My parents from the UK have pitched in; my sister, who lives in Ras Al Khaimah, too is contributing,” said Simone who works as an executive assistant in Dubai. She added the hospital also waived off nearly 50 per cent of the charges.

Simone said: “The reason why I am telling this story is to show what a beautiful community we live in. People have lost jobs, loved ones to COVID-19, but they came forward and poured their love for Janet and her fellow Ghanaians. This is the UAE for you, a country that thrives on respect and love for fellow human beings.

“For the record, Janet was barely eating one meal a day. She had gone through a lot of stress. So yes, seeing her plight people have showered their love, given a part of themselves to her and that is what she will take back besides so many lovely gifts given to her.”

Janet is expected to travel home in the next scheduled repatriation flight to Ghana.

Ghanaian repatriation so far

According to the Consulate General of the Republic of Ghana in UAE, two repatriation flights from Dubai to Accra on June 12 and June 16 have carried a total of 495 Ghanaians back home. A third evacuation flight is being arranged, the date for which is yet to be decided. The consulate has urged those wanting to return home to Ghana to register their details with the Mission.