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UAE Best Nanny winners tell their stories.

The UAE Best Nanny Awards on Saturday placed the spotlight on the hard working and dedicated role they play in society.

In many families both parents must work to keep up with the cost of living and pay for school fees, leaving them to place their faith in these young women.

But the awards -- which attracted an incredible 100,000 votes for 200 domestic workers -- also shed light on the plight of many, including those from the Philippines, which has been hit by natural disaster and economic malaise.

Here are their stories…

Using prize to start a business

Best Nanny Winner Lorina Bunio, 29, comes from a family of 10 siblings. She came to the UAE after her business and home were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

She said: "My family and I are victims of the super typhoon in 2013, when we were left with nothing. My small grocery store and our house were wiped out. My sister and cousins were here and they called me over on a visit visa. I had many interviews where I was trying to look for office manager or cashier [positions].

"I became a nanny and I feel blessed to get into a family where my employer considers me her younger sister and the kids treat me like their mum. It was very difficult for me to leave my family, I am the breadwinner. I'll work hard and stay here for some time."

Lorina plans to send part of her prize money to her mother to start a small business and have a better livelihood.

RELATED: All about UAE's Best Nanny Award

Safeguarding the family's future

Filipina Dana Acuriza, 40, was the first runner-up and won Dhs2,500 prize money.

Dana has two children aged 11 and eight. She came to the UAE when her son was two years old. Her husband and mum look after the kids back home. Dana was nominated for her dedication, including leaping into a pool to rescue one of the children she looks after when he fell in.

She said: "I came here because my husband doesn't earn enough to support the family. I want to build a house and give a good education to my kids.

"Working alone in a foreign country takes a lot of guts as there's a huge risk -- your life. For us domestic helpers, we tend to harden our heart and keep in mind that all of this scarifies is for our kids' future… for our dreams for them … that's why we just shed our tears in silence if we see that all the things we've done has paid off."

Dana plans to work and live abroad as long as it takes for her children to have a stable future.

Seven children to support

Besma Abbas, 48, was the second runner-up at UAE's Best Nanny Awards. Her husband passed away five years ago of lung cancer and kidney failure and her seven children now live by themselves in a rural Philippine village.

Instead of returning home every two years, she uses the flight money provided by her employer to pay for her children's school fees.

She said: "Its very hard to leave my kids alone and work here. I am very worried for them. All of them go to school and if anything happens, I don't get to know. I don't want to work abroad and want to be with my kids, but I have no choice. I get a better salary here and the family treats me very well."

Besma hasn't seen her children in four years. She added: "I don't have the budget to go home and see them. I prefer to work and earn money so that I can support them. My eldest, who is 22, takes care of other six children, but even she's studying in a university.

"I try to talk to them or see them through Skype but sometimes there's no signal in their area. My kids sometimes need to go to the city to talk to me. I have worked in Saudi, Kuwait and now in UAE, I am very lucky to have been in good families."

The prize money she won will be used to repair the roof of her house in the Philippines.

veathika@7days.ae

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 22, 2016
Words:730
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