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Jennifer Paredes (left) gives bundles of joy to Filipinos in Abu Dhabi.

PHOTO BY FACEBOOK


Abu Dhabi expat gives rice, food as Covid-19 aid to those who lost jobs

 

DUBAI – Moved by the number of people who lost their livelihood or are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic, a Filipina in Abu Dhabi sought to bring hope, one bag of relief goods at a time.

Jennifer Paredes, 36, started her solo mission over the weekend with 10 bags of Jasmine rice, 6 trays of eggs and 30 pieces of canned sardines that she bought with Dh400 from her own pocket and gave away to those who responded to her Facebook offer for help.

Within hours of her 2am post, she received pleas for help, including one from an Abu Dhabi resident who said he and his flatmates needed food because they were on “no work, no pay” basis, with the school where they work shutting down in a month.

Speaking to Expatmedia.net, the 36-year-old travel agency owner was at first shy to share her story, adding it was just a small gesture from her side.

“I just can’t imagine the situation now, with a lot of people who lost their job or were forced to go on leave without pay due to this pandemic. What if I were in their shoes? Who will help me? I put myself in their shoes, and that’s why I wanted to help,” she said.

The next day, Paredes, in her face mask, handed the goods to those who sent a request, all of them Filipinos grateful for the unexpected help.

“The first ten people who replied to my Facebook post don’t have work or were terminated. One is Joanna, who was supposed to go on holiday in July that she even bought her airline ticket from me. Unfortunately, I learned that she lost her job in March,” Paredes told Expatmedia.net.

Paredes, who hails from Batangas in the Philippines, said she thought of her family while helping her compatriots in the UAE. She is the breadwinner for an extended family of 18, including her two daughters, parents, siblings and relatives. “I cannot just sit and sleep and do nothing,” she said.

Paredes’ Good Samaritan efforts inspired the Filipino community, with several people coming forward to donate more food items to give away. On Saturday (April 4), with the help of volunteers, she was able to gather and distribute 70 food packs—including a bag of Jasmine rice each—to Filipinos in Abu Dhabi.

“It is very important to uplift the spirits of our kababayans in this really tight situation. At least they can feel hope. Nobody expected this crisis. We need to support each other and unite at this time especially since we are far from our family,” Paredes said. ICA/Expat Media

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