Four years ago, on a sweltering day, 20-year-old Mina Subedi stepped foot in Qatar. Scared but determined to help her family get out of a never-ending cycle of poverty, she started working as a waitress. It was not easy, but she stayed determined, and today she works as a housekeeping supervisor, subcontracted by a facilities management service provider, at a Qatar Foundation facility.
Hailing from a small town in Nepal, Subedi is her parents’ only daughter. Life was a test every day for her and her two brothers, one younger and one older than her. Her father was a daily-wage earner. “No matter how hard he worked, we could only afford one meal a day. The only choice we had was whether we were going to eat lunch or dinner,” said Subedi.
Her father took out a loan against their house in the hopes of improving the family’s financial situation, but unfortunately, he was unable to repay the loan resulting in the bank ordering seizure of their house.
Subedi said: “I vividly remember the extreme distress it caused my father. The helplessness he felt for not being able to provide for his family. Every day I saw him cry. The lack of food or not being able to afford education never bothered me as much my father’s tears did.”
Unable to see her aging father in turmoil, she decided to do whatever it took to change her family’s situation. Soon she found herself making arrangements to come to Qatar as a cleaner.
“It wasn’t easy. Leaving family to come to a foreign land is never easy. I still remember how overwhelmed I felt when I got on the plane to Qatar. That was when it really hit me that I had actually taken this huge step of leaving my country and my family. I think I cried the entire flight,” said Subedi.
However, soon she settled into her life in Qatar. “I felt really safe in Qatar, and that really helped ease the transition.” Only two months after arriving in Qatar, she was able to find her younger brother a job in Qatar as well. Together the duo repaid their father’s loan in two years. “Had we stayed in Nepal, we wouldn’t have been able to repay the loan even in two decades.”
Once the loan was repaid, the duo returned to Nepal. Subedi, however, found her way back to Qatar while her brother remained in Nepal.
“Qatar is home for me now. I am so grateful for everything it gave me, the person it made me, the worries it dispelled, and the hopes and dreams it fueled. I have been told many times to seek opportunities in other GCC countries, but my heart is in Qatar and will remain here,” she said.
When asked what she appreciated most about her life here, like all expats it’s the diversity she enjoys.
“I get to celebrate so many festivals now: Eid, Christmas, Diwali and so many others! Qatar introduced me to so many different nationalities that I had only heard about in stories growing up. I learned about different cultures, religions, cuisines, and languages.”
Subedi is also an elected worker representative. She represents all her 74 camp members at monthly joint committee meetings which bring together an equal number of management and elected worker representatives to discuss a range of work-related issues and ensure worker welfare.
Subedi said: “I became a member of Qatar Foundation’s (QF’s) joint committee last year and enrolled in the professional skills training program. The training helped me grow tremendously as an individual, particularly in terms of boosting my confidence and improving my communication skills.
“I always felt not having an education would put a dent in my professional growth, but through QF I got a second chance. Four years ago, I didn’t even speak up for myself; today I speak for 74 members of my camp. This sweeping change is thanks to the investment QF makes in its workers to teach them new skills.”
When asked if the pandemic affected her life, she said barely. “I am so grateful to God that my life remained largely unaffected. My health, my job, my salary – everything continued as normal.”
Despite everything, every night she can’t help but miss home. The sound of her dad calling out her name, the playful banter with her brothers, and the smell of her mother’s cooking, particularly a dish called Gundruk – a popular Nepalese delicacy made by fermenting and drying various leafy vegetables.
Holding back tears, Subedi said: “It’s all worth it though. I would do it again. My family lives a comfortable life now, they no longer have to worry about going to bed on an empty stomach. The tears in my father’s eyes have been replaced by a twinkle and a smile on his lips, what more could a daughter want?”
Source and image credit: Qatar Foundation
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