Angels of the Desert

January 3, 2017

A few days back in Dubai I stayed with my friend's family and was awakened by a little girl's weeping sound early morning. That was followed by her parent's discussion about how to prepare the child to go to school. The time was barely 5.30 am! I saw the parents trying desperately to wake up the little girl and the baby doing all the effort to sleep again. Finally at 6.15 am the little girl was dressed up in uniform in a semi-conscious state and made ready to board the school bus. Throughout this process the little girl was half awake.

She made all the drama not to go school, from complaining about leg pain to fever. Even though the whole episode was emotional it was funny to watch. Finally as the bus came the school caretaker got down and placed the baby in the bus. Then only she became a little active before she would fall asleep again until she reached the school.

When she returns from school the situation is bit different. She knows her mom will be ready to receive her near the building gate and that makes her excited. The way she run toward her mom and hugs her is beautiful to watch, before she is caged again inside the four walls. Pressure builds up to finish homework and tutions before they sleep in the night.

The whole day they spend within the four concrete walls almost completely cut off from the natural childhood activities they must have got, in the race for education and performance. Hardly have they seen any sun in the day or moon in the night. Stars are light years away from them. They look so cute and fair because hardly they get exposed to sunlight. Summer or winter doesn’t make any difference for them since they are caged inside the air-conditioned walls.

This is the routine life of the Indian children born and brought up in Gulf countries. It's sad, but this is the reality. The parents of these school going children too suffer a lot. They may be smiling but there is hardly any energy left in them. The deadline to reach office at 8 am after sending children to school crossing the heavy traffic and to reach back home in time is a daily nightmare. When they reach home they are usually exhausted and the children bear the brunt. They are hardly left with any energy to pay even a little attention to the kids and ultimately children are at the receiving end. The dependency of these kids is much more on the housemaids rather their mother. It’s a loss for the kids as well as the parents.

Many tragedies have happened in the recent past in the Gulf and again children are at the receiving end due to the negligence of the adults. A few of the innocent kids have faded away before they could blossom. They fall asleep in their school bus and slip under the seat and remain unnoticed. No one observes what happens. They just close all the doors of the bus and leave the vehicle trapping the innocent kids do die a tragic death.

Their woes don’t end here. They are deprived of almost all the love and affection they should have received in this tender age. Most of them do travel to their native place once a year. But they can’t communicate easily with their grandparents and relatives due to language barrier and lack of depth in the connectivity. Being close physically for a few days, still they remain apart. They can’t easily play on the ground, their mom objects since they are not used to playing in such untidy grounds! They are afraid because their children may fall sick before they travel back and they can’t risk it. Ultimately, the children suffer.

They keep staring at those village children who do things easily at will. No one objects to them. No one is after them to restrict. Still they are healthy and active. Soaring temperature or pouring rains don’t bother them. They watch their counterparts easily jump on their grandparents' laps and enjoy their warmth.

It is true that most of the time it’s difficult to give time to our kids in Gulf conditions. We need to report to office by 8 am unlike in India. When we leave home it is dark, and so also when we reach back. Crossing that heavy unpredictable traffic is a huge task. Having said this, if we want healthy and active kids at least an hour in a day they must be outside the flats under the sun or the moon, playing. To perform at academics also this is very important. Only a healthy body can have an active brain because brain too is a muscle. Making some arrangement for this to happen may not be a huge task provided we are willing to notice what our children need. It is a pity that these kids are caged inside the four air-conditioned walls. The other best option is to send the kids back to India during school break, during summer and December holidays. We need not bring them back when we return just because we can't have more holidays. We should remember that this is a permanent loss for them and their golden time. We have a responsibility to provide it to them.

They may look cute on the outside. But their loss is tremendous. Losing their natural childhood days is a big loss for them. The other big loss is the lack of emotional support that is supposed to come from elders, grandparents and even from parents since most of the time they are under the mercy of house maids. And the other noticeable loss is lack of natural environment - trees, birds, river water is a distant dream for them.

We blame many things when we hear about young people committing suicides for silly reasons. These little angels who grow up under this type of artificial environment have the possibility of developing depression at a very early stage in life for silly and no reasons.

When they come for vacation let us give them all the love, care and the warmth they miss throughout the year. For a few days let us keep away all other activities and make their trip to native a memorable one.


Vincent D'Sa Archives:
By Vincent D'Sa, Dubai/Shankerpura
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Comment on this article

  • Anthony, Granville/Sydney

    Mon, Jan 09 2017

    Well crafted article Vincy, depicting the social scenario of young and adolescent children, growing up in Gulf countries. By the way, sadly, this scenario is not typical only to the Gulf countries, it applies universally today to many other Western Countries, with similar situation, where predominantly both the parents have to work full time in order to economically sustain and fend themselves a comfortable way of living, and while doing so, leave their young tiny tots with the Childcare Centres, and if little grown ups and adolescents, in the care of their grand parents, if available, or just to look after or fend themselves.

    Sadly, with the advent of modern digital technology like computers, internet, mobile phones, etc. our traditional way of living has changed, when the husband was the sole bread winner of the family, while the wife looked after the home and the growing up, children. One suggestion for the couples who work full time in Gulf though that they send their young and growing up children to some well known and established Boarding Schools in India, where they would have the opportunities for sound education and all round development. Having said that, remember, in India also, things are not the same like olden times. Whereas the children olden times, used to come from School, do their homework one hour or so, and then go out to play, the present lot come home and straight away get on to the computer and play games and dabble on the internet.

  • Lorna Fernandes, thottam /mira road

    Fri, Jan 06 2017

    Very good article
    Reminds me the past days in Gulf.really feel sorry for the kids who left in the mercy of maids or babysitters.

  • Rita, Germany

    Thu, Jan 05 2017

    When one reads this article,can almost feel how children are suffering.Sametime they have no option when both work.At the sametime they cant leave children in India back.Then too suffer children without parents love,or left back partner.Daily phones too doesnt replace the warmth,more they tend more to consume,dont understand how parents suffer and work.No way to escape for parents .Children suffer.Good article.

  • Jenifer, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 04 2017

    Well, the article explains about prevailing situation but there is no solution. Parents can't afford to stay at home to look after their children because the life is so expensive, single person's earnings don't suffice.

    At the same time, leaving them for two months at a stretch in India too doesn't help because all their cousins go to school during Gulf-school-vacation. Grand parents themselves are dependants, burdening them further with long stay of visiting grand children is further difficult.

    The author is right - the angels do suffer out of all of this.

  • Reena Vas, Vancouver, canada

    Wed, Jan 04 2017

    Dear Vinci,
    Awesome article. Reminded me of my those days back in Sharjah, my struggle with kids and the terrible days in my office work. Hope my brother Ronny also read your article.


    Tue, Jan 03 2017


  • Manesh, Shirva/Bahrain

    Tue, Jan 03 2017

    Eye Opener for many like us who reside in these regions.

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