“I’ve been in the UAE for 5 years. I finished high school in 2017. With marks that wouldn’t get me a college scholarship and only one working person in my family of 6, I realised that I wanted to start working. I learnt about an agent sending young people like me to Dubai as sales-people. Their fee was affordable and I got convinced very quickly. I didn’t do any research. They promised a good working environment. But when my two friends and I landed at the airport in Dubai, the connections of the agents there took our passports and locked us in a room with other people like us from other countries. Soon, both my friends were taken as house-maids. Without WiFi or a sim card, we were completely cut-off from our families and help.

I fought with the agents there a lot. After resisting to work for a while, I met with a local woman who was looking for someone to look after her children. She said she wanted someone who spoke english. She seemed nice so I said I’d work for her. As soon as I left with her, she asked if I wanted to call my parents. I was happy beyond measure. On the phone, my mother said she’d been worried sick about me. After a few weeks, I told my employer that I wanted to go back home. But I went back to the agent and found out they couldn’t let me go until the Bhutanese agents paid them a certain amount. I was once again put into the same room. All the people in that room had been cheated as I’d been. I was scared and stressed, but I fought a lot to be released. The Bhutanese agents threatened to sue me for not working but I told them I’d win any case they tried to make. Finally, they bought me air tickets to go back home.

At the airport, I wondered what I’d do back home. So, I called a Bhutanese ashim in Dubai who was known to help Bhutanese there. She picked me up from the airport. With her help I moved to Abu Dhabi and worked a few jobs at different places. Getting a good work visa with temporary jobs was difficult. Finally, through a Bhutanese who worked as an area manager for a good company, I got a more permanent job with a 2 year work visa. With that job, I’m now doing much better. I also did go home to Bhutan once, it was nice.”

 

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