Experienced expats in Qatar lend a helping hand to newbies

 31 May 2017 - 12:06

Experienced expats in Qatar lend a helping hand to newbies
One of the QEW meetings.

By Rihana Nasla / The Peninsula Online

When British expat Carole Astin relocated to Qatar, she faced the challenges of filling her time with constructive activities followed by isolation. Being a nurse in palliative care helped her to identify the early signs of bereavement and immediately she took steps to change her situation for better. She started meeting other women and set up an expat group – Qatar Expat Women -- to help women like herself.   

Worse was the situation for newer moms who must bring up their children in a new city without any support from extended family or friends. And for such women, the concept of Fairy Godmother Club was initiated by the Qatar Expat Women. The club helps its young mums and newbie members get in touch with experienced and settled ladies to form friendship and provide mutual support. 

The Qatar Expat Women, established in October 2014, is an informal community group of multicultural women.  With a mission to help as many women as possible in the transition from their homeland to life as an expat, QEW is a non-governmental organisation founded by Carol Astin. A group that is also keen to collaborate with other community groups and build positive cross cultural relationship.

Astin says that the idea of initiating such a group comes from her own life. She says, “after settling down in Qatar, I started to face the day-to-day challenges of filling my time, which made me realize I basically did not know anyone here. It was not long before the whole situation did get the better of me and I started to feel lonely, lost and isolated.” She adds, “I knew from my experience as a nurse , I was starting to feel loss and bereavement of my past life which often goes with being an expat something we are not always prepared for. I knew there must be more women out there feeling like this, there simply had to be. So, that’s really where it all started.”

The whole purpose of both the group is to reach out to as many women out there as possible; to help bring these women together to form new friendships; and to help them know that they are not alone, that they can have friends. The FG Club focuses on bringing mothers and their children together to share, befriend, and have a good time.

QEW and FG Club both work together and is run by a handful of volunteers who are ready to share their experiences and lend a helping hand. Some are full timers and provide services whenever needed. They are the sole reason the group has succeeded and continues to reach more and more women. 

QEW and FG Club hosts a basic meet-up that happens on every Wednesday at the Westin Doha Hotel and Spa. Apart from that the group also organises coffee mornings, gym plus breakfast meet, and Every Tuesday meet. Saturdays the women meet for free Arabic lessons. QEW plans to introduce many other activity after Ramadan.

During a meet-up usually the volunteers introduce the new members to the older ones and make sure they feel right at home. Some strike a friendship right at the beginning ensuring both mother and children are well looked after. It’s just a beehive of positive vibes, adds Astin.

They have over 8,000 members in the closed group. It’s very easy to join this group. All you have to be is a woman! There are no membership fees and no charges. The cover charge for the food and refreshments for a Wednesday meetup is 30QR. She says, “we try to keep the cost low so it is affordable for all. Anyone can come along and join any or all of our events.”

There are times when special events are held like workshops, lectures, and outings. To name a few that the group has already organised are a talk by Diana Jewellers about the history of gold, overnight stay in the desert plus dune bashing, trips to Souq Waqif, Souq Al Wakrah, Banana Island and Sail on the Pink Ladies Cruiser. 

Expat life can be tough, but with little effort it can be a smooth transition especially if you make friends around. And that’s exactly where Qatar Expat Women and their volunteers help you with.