Moving to a new country for work can be challenging especially for new expats. Often, new expat women in Qatar can feel lost and lonely. This is why the positive support group, Qatar Expat Women, was born. Founded by Carole Astin in 2014, the community-oriented group aims to help women have an easier transition to their life in Qatar. The non-profit group is open to all nationalities and holds a variety of activities like coffee mornings, winter walks, beach days, and meetups. There is no registration fee to join the group.
The ILQ team had the chance to reach out to Carole Astin to know more about her and the Qatar Expat Women group. Scroll down to read the interview!
Carole: I am Carole Astin and I come from a small fishing village called Whitby in England.
I now work at Elite Medical Center as the Quality/Risk & Infection Control Manager. A job I had to wait a long time to find. Finding work in Qatar can sometimes be challenging to us educated Expat Women. However, all is positive and I found it in the end. I am also the founder of Qatar Expat Women.
Carole: I came to Qatar 7 years ago with my husband and son who have their own business.
The journey has been more than challenging. I personally found it the hardest, as I was not working. I left a good job in the UK to follow my family.
Leaving my grown-up children and family was a very difficult challenge. I felt very alone and isolated for the first 12 months. I went to several groups around the city and decided to use my professional skills from the UK to do something voluntary and to keep my mind and day busy, giving to the community is something I have done my whole life back in the UK with several causes.
Carole: My mission is and always has been to empower trailing spouses to make the best of the opportunities here in Qatar. Many women in Doha are silently dealing with their isolation and feeling lost generally. My mission is to help like-minded women with information and assisting them in finding their identity.
Qatar is filled with many rich opportunities for anyone to grab a hold of. We create a positive space with events, meetups and many seminars from Interior Design workshops to trips to the desert. We hold a coffee morning once a month at the Westin Doha Hotel for women who stay home.
The sole purpose is to give women the information they need. We have a private group with almost 13k on Facebook where people ask questions! Often they meet up and make friends in their area through this media.
Carole: My journey has been amazing and extremely difficult. Probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life was becoming an expat woman.
Through the group, I have fortunately met many nice ladies. It has most definitely saved me from sinking into a deep depression like some people unfortunately do. Living the life of an expat is not easy or as glamourous as many believe it can be and I am sure many will agree with me. Expats need to be quite resilient and the grass is most definitely not greener on the other side like most people think it might be.
Carole: I simply started with a Facebook page and worked very hard on reaching people. I spent my days organising meetups and gatherings for stay at home women and it grew from there.
Carole: I would not say I thought about it being a responsibility. I simply saw and felt the sadness among expats and decided to create a little positivity and a space to give myself and others a chance to make new friends.
Carole: My inspiration came from my past work as a qualified nurse. I have also studied loss and bereavement at great length, I could see it on many people’s faces, and I still do. I worked in Palliative care in the past (Care of the dying) so my natural radar is always picking up the signs. That is sometimes difficult for me.
However, I always remember how lucky I am and being grateful every day helps me to carry on with Qatar Expat Women.
Carole: I love doing QEW because I enjoy helping people and seeing people connect. To see their faces of relief gives me the buzz to carry on. When I see the happy faces, I know I made a difference that day. To see the desperation and despair slip from their faces is quite magical.
I also love making events, having parties, being sociable. I also like private family time and I love my garden in Qatar, plus I do flower arranging.
Carole: It was very easy for me to set up Qatar Expat Women. The most difficult thing I have faced was people believing that I was willing to do to help them. People would ask what is your motive...what is your agenda...and I found that rather sad.
I have taken great enjoyment from people that QEW has helped and continues to do so. It's that simple.
Carole: That is hard to say. I believe no matter how large or how small my achievements are, all of them are important because I tried and never gave up. Never giving up is an achievement in itself.
Carole: I forgot to mention juggling is my favorite pastime hahaha.
But the real answer is I have a passion for helping people and I always have which is why I went into nursing.
Carole: Who knows what the future holds. I will carry on with QEW and continue to make a difference in our community in any way I can.
I was born to make a difference. I was born to be a nurse. I was born to care.
Carole: Qatar is an amazingly safe place to live. Enjoy it and do not miss any opportunities that come your way.
Stay positive. Be Happy. Be grateful. Be you.
Warmest wishes to all of you!
All photos provided by Ms. Carole Astin.
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