Covid-19 impact on Bhutanese in Kuwait

Yeshey Lhadon

Many Bhutanese have returned from Kuwait, but there are still others who have decided to stay back.

The Government of Kuwait has decided to restore normal life and reopen economy; lifting lockdown; and relaxing curfew hours. Bhutanese in Kuwait have started to work again.

Covid-19 is no longer seen as a threat in Kuwait.

Leki Wangmo, a Bhutanese working for Americana Quality, said that she never thought about returning to Bhutan.

She said: “I am happy here, in Kuwait. We may be few in number but we can support each other in the foreign land and motivate each other,” she added.

The Bhutanese in Kuwait have experienced three months of lockdown and partial curfews amidst the increasing Covid-19 cases.

Tashi Yangzom works for Krispy Kreme in Farwaniya, governorate is the most populous of the six governorates of Kuwait. She said: “I wish I experienced lockdown.” Tashi and her friends have been making and packing doughnuts for export during lockdown.

She considers herself lucky to receive full salary and believes that her work place is safe because she only deals with her colleagues, not outsiders.

Five of Tashi’s colleagues returned home after lockdown. She chose to stay behind because returning home for her would mean facing with the situation of joblessness.

Lokindra, who also works for Krispy Kreme, said that the pandemic did not affected his job. He said: “I didn’t feel the pinch of the pandemic, but not everyone is as lucky as I am. I am scared of getting exposed to Covid-19 but I have to keep working to get paid.”

Another Bhutanese in Kuwait said that she never imagined that Covid-19 case would get that serious. “I thought of Covid-19 as some sort of flu or cough and cold from the start,” she said. She started panicking when she heard that some of her friends returning to Bhutan tested positive. She even registered with the Bhutanese Embassy in Kuwait to return home once.

Choki Gyeltshen works as a cook at Joy Café and Restaurant in Kuwait. He didn’t have much work to do during the lockdown and survived on food allowance provided by the company he works with. He said: “I am excited and worried at the same time as people are now more relaxed and activities normal have resumed.”

His company entertains walkaway guests, takeaways, and home delivery. The risk of getting infected is less for him because he is mostly in the kitchen. “I will stay in Kuwait as long as my Bhutanese friends are here. If they choose to leave, I will return also,” he said.

Some Bhutanese still wishes to return home but their companies have been holding them back.

A Bhutanese working in Kuwait shared how tired, bored and lazy he felt, as he had no work for more than six months. He recently started working with KFC store in Mahboula. He said: “I was so tired of sleeping, to the extent that my rib cage started hurting.”

He said that he faced hard times to survive without income. “If one of my roommates got infected, I would have also even as I shut myself in,” he said.

He wanted to return home to Bhutan but he was scared of testing positive. He said: “I didn’t want Bhutanese people to panic because the Bhutanese returning home from the Middle East were testing positive.”

“If the company allows, many Bhutanese would still want to return home,” he said.

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