BLESSING IN DISGUISE
Our maid was crying hard when she called me on the phone at 5:30pm. I was in El Faleh shop (the third branch I visited on the same afternoon!!) looking for the red shirt uniform for our volleyball team. It was hard for me to understand exactly what she was telling me in between sobs, but I came to know that her 1 and a half year old daughter in Mindanao was sick and she wanted to send money for her immediately. I asked her to calm down and promised to help.
After I bought my uniform (a shirt from El Faleh in Olaya and the pants from Ghornata in Malaz--- I didn’t know why don’t they have all the brands in one shop?!—DUH!!!!), I asked Eric to accompany me to Enjaz in Um Al Hamam Area on our way home. That was already past 7pm.
We reached Enjaz and it was prayer time. I saw some men waiting outside and I hoped that the queue inside was not long, if ever there was…because I wanted to attend our badminton practice which will start at 8:30pm. Unfortunately, after waiting for almost 30 minutes outside Enjaz, one of the staff came outside and informed us that they will not accept any further customers anymore and we should come back the following morning. Tsk…Tsk…The heck!
Upset, I told Eric that we have to find another way to send money because Enjaz was already offline. I called my brother who was in a basketball practice that time, but he said he could not do it for me.
Still thinking of how I would send money for the sick baby, I went home and get dressed for my badminton practice. I met my maid on the doorstep and she asked me if I already sent it. I sensed that she was deeply worried. She had so many questions and she was begging me for help. I told her that I was not yet able to send it, but I assured her that I will do it. At the back of my mind, I was afraid not to send the money right there and then because it may cost a baby’s life.
So at past 8pm, I was dragging Eric to Sulaimania Area. I knew it was not easy for him coz he was limping from his severe knee pain, but he was patient enough to accompany me. All the Enjaz Branches were closed and we found out that they didn’t open after the last prayer time.
Just when I was feeling almost a little hopeless, I spotted some Indians or Pakistanis (*still can hardly tell the difference*) in a Quick Pay/ Money Gram shop, I asked Eric to pull over and park the car nearby so I could go inside and inquire if I can send the money through.
There were three members of the staff and five other customers. I sat down in front of a Customer Service representative. There were still two men ahead of me.
While waiting for my turn, I looked around the room and noticed that there were three ATM’s- two of them saying: “Withdrawals are not allowed in this machine”. I wondered why.
After waiting for fifteen minutes, Anwar, the Customer Service Representative, called me. I told him that I wanted to send money to Philippines immediately…but I didn’t have any idea of their draft/ remittance service. He politely explained about Money Gram and Quick Pay and I understood that for a fee of 30 Saudi Riyals, after only 10 minutes—TEN MINUTES--the remittance will be available for pick up in any agent (M Lhullier, Cebuana, etc.) in the Philippines.
He asked for my Iqama (residence card) and gave me some forms to fill up. I had to open an account with Al Ahli Bank/ NCB before I could use Money Gram or Quick Pay. The procedure was not difficult though. The requirements were also simple- just a valid Iqama and some patience on filling up a lot of forms. The Customer Service was great and all members of the staff in the branch I dealt with were friendly and polite. They even gave me some freebies- a wallet, a bag, a key holder, a can opener, and Sawa load (how’s that?)- because they said it was my first time visit them.
Five minutes before 9 o’ clock the same evening, I had opened a bank account at Al Ahli Bank/ NC, got an ATM Card, and I already sent my remittance through Quick Pay. That was more than a breath of fresh air. I sent a text message to our maid so she could forward the reference number to her mother in Mindanao and to inform her that she could pick the money up in any agent after ten minutes (which she did, by the way!).
At the end of the day, I felt relieved from the guilt of not being able to help someone in need. I am thankful for the blessings that I have including a husband who had to endure a “long walk” and hours of waiting amidst a very painful knee (*a slight grin on my face, thinking about it), my two kids who constantly inspire me, good health, good job, and a wonderful set of family and friends around.
**Note: To all my friends in Saudi Arabia who have not tried the Money Gram/ Quick Pay service of Al Ahli Bank/ NCB yet, I suggest that you do open an account with them. It’s a small procedure, but in case of emergency, I think their service is very useful for the following reason: Talk about convenience. There’s no need to wait in long queue’s to send money to your beneficiaries, because the customer can do the transfer fast and easily through any Al Ahli Bank or NCB ATM in the kingdom- 24/7.
What makes me happy?
People. Everyone around me who believes and inspires me- my family, my husband, my two beautiful girls, my friends and colleagues.
Life itself is a happy experience. The world is a happy place.
I had my own share of struggles, life was not easy for us back then but my Dad taught me how to believe in myself, work hard , be kind and to be strong. He inspired me to go out of my comfort zone. He used to tell me that the possibilities in life are endless and so I believed him.
l Iost him quite a few years ago but he has left me with so much inspiration to follow my dreams - to visit places I have only dreamt of or have seen in the movies when I was little and to do things I thought were only for the privileged few.
Wherever I go, I always remember my Dad, wishing he could see me from afar and somehow be proud of me as I have always been so proud of him. Life is short and I promised him that I would make the most of mine.
Travelling makes me happy and in all other things, I choose happiness. We all should- always..