Child and mum struggling to avail during amnesty
This is one of the youngest illegal residents in the UAE. And her mother is hoping that the current immigration amnesty means the pair will finally be able return to their native Philippines.
One-year-old Zoe Sophia and her mum, Raquel Balibat, have been relying on the kindness of strangers to put a roof over their heads for the past few months.
Balibat, 33, came to Dubai on a tourist visa in January 2011 to look for work. Zoe was born in the UAE but does not have a passport.
Balibat says she initially got a job as a domestic help and then part-time work in a hotel, but she was working illegally as she did not have a visa. She said: “I’ve tried to make both ends meet but I don’t know how I can give my daughter a good future. I cannot find a regular job here in Dubai, but we cannot
go home because of our overstaying fines.”
Eventually, the pair were thrown out of their accommodation as they could not keep up with the rent. Meanwhile, Balibat’s husband, who had a visa, returned to the Philippines for work.
They really hit rock bottom when they had no choice but to sleep on a bench for a couple of nights in an alley in Satwa. Filipinos living nearby rallied round to help and gave them shelter in a villa.
Noven Guillermo, a maid who helped Balibat, said: “I admire her courage. Despite the series of unfortunate events, she did not abandon her baby. As a mother, I know how much she loves her daughter and I hope they can finally have a fresh start.”
The Ministry of Interior announced that a reprieve would run for those without visas for two months, starting from December 4 and running until February 3.
Major General Nasser Awadi Al Menhali, assistant undersecretary for naturalisation, residency and ports affairs at the ministry, said at the time: “All illegal residents can visit residency departments across the UAE to obtain out-passes and leave the country without penalties.”
Balibat now faces a race against time to raise cash for plane tickets for her and her daughter. She said: “I have an opportunity to start over and put things in order.”