Hoping to show his childhood nanny how much he appreciated her, a Qatari man recently recorded a video thanking the woman in her native language.
The tribute was for Filipina expat Yaya Zubaidah, who left Qatar six years ago after working in the country for two decades.
Al-Naama said he chose to deliver his message in Tagalog to also show his gratitude for Qatar’s large Filipino population.
Speaking to Doha News, Al-Naama explained:
“I feel that the Filipino community is often overlooked and under-appreciated in Qatar, and it’s a shame.
“I recognized the power of story telling and tried to convey an important message of gratitude using the video.”
Tribute to Filipina nanny
Through his nanny, Al-Naama said he used to practice speaking Tagalog, and hopes to become fluent in it one day.
With the help of Jordan De La Cruz at Qatar Living, he was able to accurately translate his heartfelt message into the language.
Describing Zubaidah as “the seventh member of our family,” Al-Naama said that that she had been “a quintessential part of (his) entire family’s life.”
In the video, he added:
“Because of her, I feel an immediate kinship with Filipinos anywhere I go in the world. Even though I can’t speak the language (yet), I feel like an extended family member of the global Kabayan community.”
Referencing the ongoing Gulf dispute, Al-Naama also highlighted the local Filipino community’s solidarity with his country.
“I especially want to thank you for standing by Qatar and showing your support during the recent crisis,” he said in Tagalog.
Separated by retirement
Zubaidah began working for Al-Naama’s family before he was born, and retired in 2011.
Her move back home to the Philippines to be with her family affected Al-Naama deeply, he said.
“Even though I knew she would retire one day, when it actually happened it was a completely different ball game. It was so hard.”
Al-Naama added that he had found it hard to keep in contact with Zubaidah after she left because he was so upset.
But his message brought about a reunion, via Skype.
In scenes shared on Philippines television, Al-Naama was able to talk with his childhood nanny and tell he how much he missed her.
Showing visible emotion in the video, Al-Naama explained why he hadn’t kept in touch, and that he felt “really bad” about it.
“You were part of our lives for more than 20 years, and I wanted to do something. I didn’t just want to call you. I wanted to do something special,” he explained.
Like most domestic workers living abroad, Zubaidah was supporting her family back home.
Al-Naama said he knew that this meant she had to sacrifice being with her own husband and two daughters, to help raise someone else’s family.
For this reason especially, he said that he believed people in Qatar should be “very compassionate” when employing staff who have had to leave their loved ones behind.
“She (Zubaidah) was always present in my life, when she wasn’t present for her biological children. Her daughter has said that her mum missed so many important events in her life.
I never underestimated that.”