‘Lockdown miracle’ for this Filipina in Dubai

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Shiela Marie Balila is very grateful for her permanent job
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: While many suffered job losses during the ‘lockdown’, there were expatriates who were fortunate enough to actually improve their careers and land better jobs.

After losing her job in March during the pandemic, Shiela Marie Balila, Filipina expatriate from Cebu city in the Philippines was fortunate enough to land a permanent job. The mother of a two-year-old girl Elianah, Balila is thrilled with what she considers a “lockdown miracle”: a regular job at a Dubai clinic as a patient services coordinator.

“When I came to Dubai in 2013, I had to work as a sales person in a furniture retail showroom even though I had done some allied nursing courses in my country. I accepted that and continued looking for healthcare jobs. After a brief respite during which I became a mother, I landed a job as a call centre coordinator for a clinic last year. But my job was not permanent; it was a renewable contract,” said Balila, who feared that her job would not be renewed when COVID-19 happened.

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Sheila with her daughter Elianah
Image Credit: Supplied

‘I lost my job as lockdown began’

Her worst fears came true. As soon as the lockdown happened, the clinic had to shut down as number of patients dwindled. “In March 2020, at the Call centre, I was the first to lose my job when lockdown happened as I was not permanent. Elianah was 14 month old and I was seriously affected,” said Balila.

However, Balila did not lose hope and continued looking for jobs in the next three-four months. “It was tough as my husband’s income was barely enough. I utilised that time to bond with my child, worked hard at home, cut back on the home budget to make ends meet. But I never lost hope and continued looking for jobs,” said Balila.

Eventually, Balila heard that the clinic for which she was working as a call centre operator had re-opened and they were looking for permanent employees. “I was overjoyed. The record of my work accomplishments at the call centre, had been good, therefore, I went to the clinic. They checked my work experience and my call centre work and by God’s grace, I landed a permanent job as a patient services coordinator. Now I am permanent and have a company visa. That makes my family life stable. I couldn’t have been happier,” said Balila.

‘Value the opportunity’

With the health sector being in boom, Balila has a busy schedule. She has a duty rota that is either from 7.45am – 5.45pm or from 9am to 7pm. During those hours, Balila, gets busy answering appointment calls, manages scheduling the day for the doctors, answering emails and is thrilled to have this routine. “It gives me so much joy each day to wake up and remember I have a confirmed job and no longer on a contractual term. I thank God for a well –structured day and value it deeply. I am dedicated to the work,” said Balila.

‘Miracles do happen, keep faith’

Her message to her fellow compatriots is very simple and heartfelt. “I know many of my friends lost their jobs during the last few months. It has been a trying time. My advice to them is to be patient, keep trying; miracles do happen and one must not lose hope. Be on the lookout, do your homework on the post you are applying for. You might be surprised with what you get.”

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