Dubai: The real mother of Fatima — the six-year-old Filipina that Gulf News reported on last week, who had been abandoned in Ajman with no paperwork — finally came forward on Sunday and agreed to cooperate in order to get the girl documented so she could attend school.
Reunited in a fast food joint in Karama, close to where the real mother still stays, it was explained to Fatima that she is actually seven-years-old not six (born February 15 2012) and that her real name is Angel.
The mother, now aged 50, who Gulf News won’t name or identify, is married with two teenage girls in the Philippines, but had a relationship with a Filipino man in Dubai shortly after arriving in the UAE, where she remains.
From this affair she got pregnant and had the baby in a local Dubai hospital filed under the marriage certificate of her and her husband, who is still in the Philippines.
“My boyfriend left me before the birth and within a month of having Angel I found it too difficult to support both her and my family in the Philippines because I was the only provider,” the mother told Gulf News on Sunday.
At this point a male friend of the mother approached another Filipina through a prayer meeting in Satwa and it was agreed the child could be ‘looked after’ by the second Filipina, who wanted a child because her and her Pakistani partner — then both in their fifties — couldn’t conceive.
The Filipina-Pakistani couple became unofficial foster parents and looked after the girl, who they named Fatima, for five years until December 2018, when they fell upon hard times when their company went bust.
They had been briefly renting accommodation from a second Pakistani man Syed Ali Moazzam in Ajman in December at the peak of their troubles, and it was from here that Syed agreed to look after the child until the couple could get back on their feet after he found the Filipina and the girl on the streets a few days after they had left his accommodation.
Five months on however Syed has received little contact from the couple and so he decided to appeal to Gulf News to find the girl’s real mum and get her documented so she could attend school.
Now that the real mother has come forward Fatima’s birth records can be found and she can be documented, fulfilling her dream of going to school and meeting new friends instead of being holed up in a flat in Ajman.
“I can go and get the records from the hospital, when I get an Emirates ID card,” said the mum. “I haven’t been able to do this because I was living here illegally until I recently availed of amnesty (the turning of her illegal status into legal). Now I am on a six-month job seekers visa and once I get a permanent visa and an Emirates ID, I will go and get the records from the hospital.
“I prayed that 2019 would be the year that all my problems were solved and it looks as if they finally will be,” she added. “I’m so happy to see Angel again.”
As for who will look after Fatima now, the mother replied: “I don’t know, we will have to discuss this.”
Both the Filipina-Pakistani couple and Syed have expressed their desire to adopt the child officially through courts in Philippines just as soon as Fatima gets a Philippines passport to travel, but the Filipina-Pakistani couple are currently living apart, the Filipina in Deira and unpaid in months and the Pakistani man currently in Pakistan for cataract surgery. He says he will return after Ramadan. At the moment Syed is Fatima’s only constant.
Fatima harbours ambitions of everyone living together: “Like a big happy family. Actually we are not going to go separate ways, we are going to go together, it’s like a cookie with milk,” she added, calling her meeting with mum “the best day.”
Philippines Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News: “We are in touch with both the mother and the guardians, until the child is documented we cannot divulge any further information.”
New details of the birth from the mother have been passed on by Gulf News to the hospital group concerned in order to obtain records, but as the hospital branch where the child was born has since closed, this request could take time. The hospital group still exists however and they are assisting us with our request.
The mother said she is willing to cooperate in order to help the child. Ajman Police had earlier said they wouldn’t arrest the mother if she came forward.
— With inputs from Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary
How Gulf News found Fatima’s mum
Gulf News managed to contact the Filipino-Pakistani couple, who said their only link to the real mum was via a cheque for Dh2,000 issued from a UAE bank in 2013 under the mother’s real name which was intended to help with the upbringing of the child. From this distinctive surname and the hometown of the real mother, which we were also able to obtain from the couple, we ran a search on Facebook to find others bearing the same surname living in the same town in the Philippines. Only one name came up.
Upon googling the name that came up we were able to find a website, which looked like a school project, run by the concerned name that lists details of her family members, one of which said her mother was an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) with a first name that matched the name on the cheque.
Within this website there were also contact numbers for other family members, who we also checked on Facebook, one of whom beared a striking resemblance to Fatima. Gulf News passed this information on to Syed.
Gulf News also had a phone number for the real mother but the person who answered claimed to be someone else, while revealing the initials of the company the work phone belonged to.
Once finding that workplace and informing the person on the line that the mother’s family in Philippines had been identified she agreed to meet. The real mother requests not to be named or identified because her family in Philippines do not yet know about Angel, she said she does not care about what her husband thinks as the two are separated although still technically married, but she says she does not want a scandal back in Philippines because she worries about how her elderly parents would cope with the stress of the situation.