UAE: Will You Book A Limousine For Your Nanny? This New Initiative Is Celebrating Domestic Help

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Thu 13 Jun 2024, 8:49 PM

Jean Pereira and Aditi Menon met as college students in India several years ago and instantly became friends.“We are Aquarians,” they announce happily, during our interview. They stayed in touch over the years but reconnected when Aditi relocated to Dubai two years ago after living in the US for 15 years.

At that point, both were at a critical juncture in their lives.“Like most women, I was looking for a job that would offer stability and flexibility in terms of the time I could spend with my family,” says Jean, who has worked in the event management industry. Aditi, who has also worked in the same field, was dealing with similar doubts.“We were at a stage where we didn't want to rejoin the rat race of the corporate world. We have families with kids, and you know the kind of responsibilities mothers have. It's really challenging - women juggle everything from groceries and making it to work to their kids' activities and school commitments,” she explains.

Jean Pereira and Aditi Menon

Today, particularly in the age of social media, it can often feel like being a mom isn't enough; one must aspire to be a #supermom. Unrealistic standards continue to be imposed on mothers, who are expected to 'do it all' while also 'having it all'. But in reality, it takes a village to raise a child - and even a family - especially in a city like Dubai where expatriates, miles away from their support systems back home, often juggle punishing work schedules and family responsibilities. In such scenarios, nannies and domestic help can often provide a unique kind of support that feels familial.

Aditi and Jean decided to utilise their expertise in the event management industry by creating a platform that would honour and celebrate the community through events tailored for them. On June 8, they announced the launch of their initiative, Helpily, through a gala for nannies titled 'Shine & Dine: Honouring our Domestic Heroes'. The inaugural event was sold out, they say, with 150 nannies in attendance.“We wanted to express our appreciation for everything they do,” says Aditi.“It also helps them return to work feeling motivated, rejuvenated, and with a sense of belonging.”

The modern Mary Poppins

Jean affectionately refers to her nanny, Jenny, as a“magician”.“She's right here, laughing!” she says during our interview, momentarily taking her eyes off the screen to smile at her.“Just yesterday, I was running late for an appointment, and she effortlessly sorted everything out at home. And couples often feel disconnected because kids and other responsibilities just take over, right? Initially, we didn't ask for help, but later, we asked her if she could stay back at home for our night out. And it was so easy with her. She said, 'Mama, you need to go out with sir and have an evening to yourself',” recalls Jean, adding that Jenny has stayed back to help out ever since.

Aditi points out that it's a privilege to have help at home.“I've lived in the US for a long time, where I did everything on my own - cooking and cleaning while also going to work. So, it's truly a luxury to come here and have help. Moreover, they're away from their own families to nurture ours, and that's something that deserves recognition and appreciation. I don't think many of us consider that.”

An evening to remember

Regine Ladjagani, who moved to Dubai from the Philippines a year ago, is a nanny to two boys aged nine and seven. She learned about Helpily's event through her employer, who asked her whether she would like to attend it.“I said yes and asked my three aunties' employers if they could come too, as they work as nannies as well.” The four of them attended the party and enjoyed an evening of good food, music, and dance.“It was thoughtful and nice of them to organise this for nannies who work so hard to support their families back home,” she says.

The team promoted the event through social media and word of mouth, encouraging employers to register their nannies for it. They also collaborated with well-known and like-minded individuals, such as radio presenter, influencer, and author Helen Farmer, who helped amplify their message.

At the event, attendees enjoyed a buffet dinner, glitter art, a massage station, and an LED dance floor where they could let loose while DJ Aira Edwards from the Philippines ensured that they stayed glued to the dance floor.“We had given the DJ the breakup of their nationalities, so that she could throw in some Sri Lankan music, some Kenyan and Filipino music,” explains Aditi. Games were organised as ice-breakers, along with prizes and vouchers. Jean mentions that some employers went above and beyond to pamper their nannies - one even booked a limousine for the occasion.“We were also able to offer two giveaways prior to the event for nanny makeovers, where they could get their hair and makeup done.”

Looking ahead, the co-founders aim to organise similar events for the community.“It's not often that they walk into a Hilton or so for an event that's dedicated to them - they usually accompany their employers to take care of the kids and stuff like that. But here, we want to make them feel special,” explains Jean.

While they plan to let the initiative grow organically, they have several ideas in mind. They hope to organise outdoor events, such as picnics in parks, as the weather improves toward the end of the year. Additionally, they aim to 'go local' by visiting residential communities to reach a broader audience and explore corporate partnerships through companies' CSR activities to support office staff, like the office boys and other helpers who keep these companies running.

They also intend to collaborate with companies that can offer activities like classes on yoga, wellness, mental health and financial planning. Through tie-ups with training institutes, they also plan to provide upskilling courses, which could range from teaching the basics of a new language to childcare training, including first-aid.“I've had my share of interviews with nannies in Dubai, and one of the first things I ask is, 'Do you know first aid?' And most of them don't – and they, literally, have our kids in their care for 8 to 10 hours a day,” points out Jean.“It could be paid for either by the employer or the nannies if they want to upskill themselves, but we want to offer it at a discounted price so that it's affordable.”



Khaleej Times

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