Dubai: Blue-collar workers' kindness helps debt-ridden, paralysed expat fly home after three years

“My health is now much better, and I am very motivated to improve my financial condition," Farooq Piyara Masih said.



Farooq at the airport, with Baharul, accommodation supervisor, and Ravi Santiago.
Farooq at the airport, with Baharul, accommodation supervisor, and Ravi Santiago.
by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Sat 26 Feb 2022, 8:52 AM

Last updated: Sat 26 Feb 2022, 10:47 PM

All hope was lost for Farooq Piyara Masih, 54, when Khaleej Times first met with him in 2019.

Debt-ridden and paralysed, Farooq was languishing in a Karama Park for nearly two weeks after losing his job in April 2019. A former director of sales and revenue at a leading hotel group, Farooq had racked up debts worth Dh 400,000.

Back then, a group of young Indian men, headed by a social worker named Vibin, shifted Farooq to a small room inhabited by blue-collar workers. Farooq’s plight gained national attention when the workers threw their doors open for him.

At this point, Farooq’s left hand and leg were paralysed due to a brain stroke he’d suffered a month earlier. He’d been imprisoned after defaulting on his loans a few times, and the court had ordered him to pay Dh100,000 to leave the country.

Today, after a three-year-long excruciating wait, Farooq has finally made it home to his wife and kids. A few days after Farooq’s story was published in Khaleej Times, his former employee immediately reached out to him and provided him with much-needed support.

How did Farooq make it back home?

From the blue-collar workers’ accommodation, Farooq was moved to Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman, his home for more than two years - from November 2019 to January 2022. The hotel provided him with free accommodation, food and medicine during this time. However, he could not go home to Pakistan due to unpaid bank loans and pending court cases.

“Farooq was an ex-employee of one of our hotels before he moved to work for another hotel, lost his job and got paralysed,” Ramada Hotels told Khaleej Times in a statement.

“Upon seeing the news in Khaleej Times, our company looked for him to offer free accommodation,” it added.

However, the hotel group went above and beyond to repatriate Farooq. After persistently communicating with banks Farooq owed money to for three years, the financial institutions finally agreed to settle and waive his unpaid dues.

“He received a permit to fly back a few weeks ago,” the statement added.

Since Farooq did not have a passport anymore, the Pakistan mission in Dubai arranged a travel document for him. An ecstatic Farooq spoke to Khaleej Times from Pakistan over the phone: “I have immense gratitude for the support Ramada Hotels provided me with. The hotel took outstanding care of me,” he said.

Farooq had accumulated the debts in his attempt to support his family of five daughters. “I had taken the loans to provide them with a good life in Dubai. Unfortunately, I lost my job, and I couldn’t pay the loans back,” he added.

“My health is now much better, and I am very motivated to improve my financial condition. I want to find work. My older daughter is working and is supporting our family. I want to continue working, and God willing, someday I wish to return to Dubai,” he added.

Ravi Santiago, the cluster general manager, Wyndham Hotels Ajman, said: “It was truly heartbreaking at first when we’ve learned about Farooq’s story in Khaleej Times. Mercifully, some good-hearted labourers, who did not even know him, temporarily provided him with food and shelter.”

“We should always lend a hand to those in need. As a business, we have a responsibility to take care of our people, and even those who were once part of the family. Thus, we did not hesitate to take him in, provide him with comfortable accommodation in the hotel, and look after his medical needs, which were all crucial in his condition,” said Santiago.

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“It was not an easy process to deal with all the concerned organisations, but eventually, all our efforts paid off when he got an authorisation to fly back home,” he said.

Baharul Islam, the staff accommodation supervisor at Ramada Ajman, was the one who arranged all of Farooq’s meals, monitored his health situation, and attended to his personal needs.

Islam said: “I was with him at the airport, and I was very happy for him because I knew that the past three years were tough for him, and at the moment, he was excited to be with his family. I wish him a full recovery, ongoing good health, and a better future with his loved ones back home.”


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