A Filipina domestic worker in Abu Dhabi will soon be owning a house in her hometown, thanks to her Emirati employer who has paid for it.
Dina Tenerife Celo, a 45-year old single mother, said her employer has gifted her Dh23,000 (around 320,000 Pesos) to purchase a plot in Camarines Sur, Philippines.
Her employer Melissa McPike, an American who acquired Emirati citizenship after marrying a UAE national, is also financing the construction of the two-bedroom house. “I don’t have a penny as savings even after working in the UAE for two decades. Now, my dream is coming true, thanks to my madam. I feel lucky and blessed.”
The property is registered under her 21-year-old son Ryan’s name. Celo said when she flies home on January 18 for a full year leave, her employer’s son Saeed Al Muhairi, 26, will accompany her to help in the construction of the house.
“When my house is complete, my madam and her two sons have promised to visit and stay as my guests.”
On her part, Celo’s employer McPike, it was the least she could do for Celo by helping her own her dream home. “We do not consider her as an employee. She is one of our family. She has done so much for me and my children when they were young. I wanted to give back something to her,” said McPike, a government employee who is now divorced.
Celo came to work for McPike’s family in Khalifa City in 1998 after an unsuccessful stint in Saudi Arabia. “Saeed and Saif (McPike’s children) were six and four when I was taking care of them. But after two years, my contract got over, I worked in coffee shops and supermarkets till 2014.
“I was always in touch with my madam and her sons. She had even offered me to work for her several times, but unfortunately, it did not work out.”
McPike said in 2014, Celo was looking for a job and she did not have to hesitate to take her in again. “I have had many other housemaids. But none were like Celo. She is trustworthy to the point that I even leave my debit card with her. She is hardworking and worked for us as though she belonged here. Even my children adore her and call her Aunty.”
McPike said often it is upsetting to read horror stories about housemaids being mistreated. “I would like to say that stereotypes are not true. There are so many families that treat their domestic help with respect and love. And they deserve it.”
For Celo, the love and generosity she gets from her employer makes up for other setbacks in life. “My marriage did not work out and it really took an emotional turn to be here. Now, I have a family to call my own in Abu Dhabi.”