For 40 year old Rashid, this has been the toughest time ever since he came from Bangladesh to Oman almost ten years back.
A cleaner at homes and restaurants, Rashid has been forced to stay at home as the authorities took unprecedented measures to keep coronavirus spread in check.
Rashid’s case is not an exception. With no work and no source of income, there are hundreds of blue-collar expatriates living in Hamriya.
Work-from-home is definitely not an option and most of them are struggling to make ends meet.
Rashid said, “I used to work as a domestic help for three Indian families and I have been asked not to come. During weekends I used to work in restaurants but now with everything closed I am finding it extremely difficult to survive.
“Luckily, I have stocked some rice and pulses that will last for a week or so but with no steady income I am worried about future.”
On an average five to ten persons stay in one single room in the alleys of Hamriya. There are several with no valid documents and they survive on the favours of friends.
A Pakistani labourer [didn’t wish to be named] who works at a construction company said, “Right now, I don’t have even RO2 in my pocket. I am staying in my cousin’s small room here.
“Though he has been kind, now I feel bad to be a burden on him as his job (a building construction contractor) is also on hold.
“I used to earn on a daily basis through odd jobs but there is nothing right now. It is also not good to go out in the streets because of police.”
These workers try hard to support each other as they struggle for survival.
Jalal, in his 30s, said, “These are difficult times. We pool whatever we have – money, dry rations, etc – and take turns preparing meals. Sometimes a few well-wishers visit us during evenings and bring rations. We are thankful to them.”