Helping hands: How this teacher juggles teaching with supporting the local community

Saisha Fatima is a mother of two, a dedicated teacher, a philanthropist and a committed member of a family business. Here she shares her experience of juggling her busy life and giving back to her community through the pandemic.

Keeping an eye on the family business and staying on top of work certainly is challenging, especially with two small children. With family businesses the work hardly stops and the lines can get blurred, so finding a balance is a continuous challenge. Nevertheless, the upside is that we always work as a team, and that makes everything easier.

I started teaching at GCS last September and was earlier a shadow teacher for one year under the assistance of Ms Rema at GEMS Westminster School – Sharjah. Working full-time to help children in school was my decision as it makes me happy.

The family group of restaurants has been in the UAE since 1982, so we are well-established especially among the Pakistani community, and last year during the lockdown, we saw a lot of people in the community lose their jobs, struggle to pay rent, and some couldn’t afford to go back home. At that time, we saw that many organisations were supporting those in need with daily groceries, and we thought why not deliver cooked food and support the community with our meals.

We wanted to help as many people as possible, but we only have three restaurants. We initially did it on our own, but soon other local businesses wanted to contribute and help to cover other areas. The impact was amazing.

We created a partnership called Rizq – Centre for Hope, under the slogan “no one sleeps hungry”, providing meals to the needy across the emirates. We created a simple set menu for each day that included chicken curry, egg curry, biryani, mixed vegetables and dal fry along with naan that was sent out to individuals and families in different sizes depending on the number of people in the family or room.

It was a very humbling and rewarding experience to be able to give back to the community at such a time of great need.

I am blessed to also be able to help people in need this year by going door-to-door or delivering food at their doorstep in line with COVID-19 safety protocols. I hope to cater to more people in future and pray for this pandemic to end soon.