|By Deborah Fleck, Detroit Free Press|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 13, 2005 - The Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas is reaching out to help its family halfway around the world in the Maldives. The floods produced by December's tsunamis washed away the jobs of about 400 employees on the tiny island of Kuda Huraa.
Although no one was killed or seriously hurt there, the resort was ruined. While it is being rebuilt, manager Armando Kraenzlin has been busy finding jobs for his employees.
Nearly 200 are working at resorts around the world, and 12 have just come to Irving.
"We are very grateful to Mr. Kraenzlin for helping us," said Nasreena Abdulla. She and Aisath Rasheeda are the only women in the group.
They said they were working the day of the disaster. "I thought it was a leak when we saw the water, but then everyone starting running to higher ground," Ms. Abdulla said.
The resort evacuated the guests, and the employees were left to survey the damage. "It was very depressing to see what happened," Ms. Abdulla said.
When the offers came to work elsewhere, many were grateful to accept. "It is a good company, and they take care of us," said Imran Adam. Several employees are working in Chicago, Palm Beach, Fla., and the Hawaiian island of Maui, along with a few other U.S. cities. The 12 in Irving have never been to the U.S.
"Everyone is very nice but very busy," Mr. Adam said. "It is not like back home where people come just to relax."
When they first arrived, they were amazed at the traffic, since the main method of transportation back home is by boat.
"They just stared at all the cars," said Craig Reid, general manager of Four Seasons Las Colinas. He said the company's humanitarian effort received help from local government officials, who sped up what is usually a long process.
"It is an investment in our people," Mr. Reid said. "We want to have a positive impact on their lives."
The company is providing nearby housing for the employees and making sure they have time to be tourists.
They recently visited Texas Stadium and received Cowboys T-shirts and caps. Although most are soccer fans, they knew how to kick field goals and catch passes.
They are excited about helping out with the Byron Nelson golf tournament this weekend, and they hope to meet another islander, Vijay Singh, who is from Fiji.
Their stay may last through the fall depending on how quickly reconstruction progresses.
"We hope to be back soon," said Mohammed Nasheed. He left behind a wife, parents and four siblings. Meanwhile, he said, he and the others are just happy to be working.
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