Zareen Chougulay said she could never have imagined that a complete stranger, whom she met just once, that too briefly, was able to change her life forever.
DUBAI — A young Indian expat girl, who was forced to discontinue her studies and relocate to her home country after her father died in 2020, has now completed her graduation and is standing on her own feet, thanks to the timely support of a Dubai-based Emirati man following a Gulf News report.
Zareen Chougulay, a former student of St Mary’s School in Dubai, told Gulf News from New Delhi, where she has landed a job as a Guest Service Associate at a five-star hotel: “My mother and I are eternally grateful to this noble soul.”
She said, “I want him to know that his unexpected help at the lowest point in our lives has not gone to waste. I am in a position to take control of my life, stand on my own feet and help my mother today because of the help we received back then. Someday, like him, hopefully, I also want to make a difference to someone somewhere.”
According to Gulf News, the Emirati wanted to remain anonymous. He said he had read about the condition of the girl’s father Abdullah Mohammad Ishaq Chouglay and the plight of his family in a Gulf News article published in 2020. The article was titled “Dubai-based Indian expat goes to emergency with a tummy ache, ends up being diagnosed with COVID-19 and cancer”.
“It was a sad story as the father, who had lost his job, had tested positive for COVID-19 and also diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer. As a Muslim, I felt obligated to help and I wanted to do it in a measured way,” he said.
However, when he contacted the family, the 71-year-old father had passed away. Chouglay’s wife, Clementine, had also lost her job and Zareen, who had secured admission into a law programme at a Dubai-based university, had withdrawn her seat for want of funds.
Just before her father’s death, Zareen had told Gulf News, “My mom and I are being comforted by my friends who have been supportive. I was hoping as their only child, I could complete my law and become the breadwinner of the family.”
The Emirati man said, “The girl and her mother were preparing to return to Mumbai, their native place after the tragic death of the father. I decided to make Zareen self-sufficient, so I offered to fund her studies in India and support the family.”
He said Zareen, who enrolled into a Bachelors of Science and Hospitality Studies programme at a college in Mumbai, was a bright girl. “In all fairness, the family was genuine and never took advantage of the support extended to them. All along, they were transparent about how the money was being utilised. I also received weekly updates on her progress at college,” he said.
An overwhelmed Zareen, who completed the three-year programme in May this year, said, “I landed a job too now. I shudder to think where we would have been had it not been for the help we received at the time we did. Like they say, when one door shuts, another opens and good things come in good time.”
She said she could never have imagined that a complete stranger, whom she met just once, that too briefly, was able to change her life forever.
According to her, helping others comes naturally to the UAE and its people. “Through my growing up years in the UAE, I would see how people were quick to reach out to others,” said Zareen, who never imagined that she herself would be a beneficiary one day.
The Emirati said, “It is all the will of Allah. When we are born, we are never given an a la carte menu. Each one of us could be anyone, anywhere. The only thing we earn over time are the blessings of God which can be used to help others. It’s a sign of gratitude.”