Abu Dhabi, UAE: When Moideen Kunhahamed was 28 years old, he left his hometown in Kerala and set off to secure a better future for himself in this country.
With the help of friends from his village who were already settled here, Mr Kunhahamed landed a maintenance job at Al Khubairat Community School. He stayed there until his retirement last month.
Standing in front of a room packed with teachers, administrators and support staff, Mr Kunhahamed wiped tears from his eyes as his colleagues honoured his 35 years of service to the school, which is now called the British School Al Khubairat.
“This is a sad, but happy time,” said Jo Czerpak, deputy head, who said he was five years old when Mr Kunhahamed began working at the school. “The amount of change that you’ve seen over the years is quite incredible. There were certainly fewer children, certainly fewer staff and fewer classrooms and buildings to go around, I would imagine.”
As the school grew over the years, so, too did Mr Kunhahamed’s responsibilities.
“Your major roles that I’ve seen – I’m sure there have been plenty over the years – have been the post collection and also the very important job of going to the bank with lots of cheques and the cash” issued to the school, Mr Czerpak said. “I think that tells a story in itself, that someone who is given that responsibility is very, very trustworthy and very, very highly regarded.”
But, even as his stature rose, Mr Kunhahamed, 63, was never above any job, no matter how menial, his colleagues said.
“He will do anything and he’ll never complain,” said Kelsie Clark, a pastoral administrator at the school who has worked with Mr Kunhahamed for five years. Every day, he would perform each task with a smile, Mrs Clark said.
“Look, look, look, he’s smiling now,” said Mrs Clark, gesturing towards Mr Kunhahamed as he shook hands with colleagues gathered around a cake and sweets to bid him a happy retirement. “That’s what he always looks like.”
During nearly four decades that he worked at the school, Mr Kunhahamed paid for education for his three daughters and two sons who lived with their mother in India. When his oldest son reached working age, Mr Kunhahamed secured a job for him at the school. His son worked there until 2008 and continues to live in Abu Dhabi. The rest of his adult children are in India.
Mr Kunhahamed, now that he has retired, will return to India to join his wife and live in the home that his job allowed him to build for his family. He now wants to focus his efforts on helping to raise his two grandsons and help with his son’s business.
“So I don’t think the work is going to be stopping entirely, but hopefully it’s going to be a little bit quieter than the last 35 years here,” Mr Czerpak said to Mr Kunhahamed. “That means that your family legacy will continue and I imagine you’ll put every effort into developing that legacy for your family that you put into working for BSAK.”
As the room flooded in applause, Mr Kunhahamed quietly expressed his appreciation. “Thank you very much,” he said.
© The National
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