Jeddah : The heart-breaking ordeal of eight orphans, ranging from ages three to 17 years, and belonging to a Hyderabadi family in Saudi Arabia, has finally come to an end after their departure to Canada. The children witnessed the death of their parents in a span of a year and passed through a traumatic and painful experience. Not only were they deprived of basic education due to poverty but also had to starve, struggle for the treatment of their ailing father, who became an illegal after a dispute with his sponsor, prior to his death.
The orphaned children, who were stranded in Saudi finally left for Canada, where their aunt lives, to start life afresh with the help of authorities from three countries. Mohammed Ali, a resident of Risala Abdullah colony in Hyderabad, used to run a mechanical workshop in Shifa district of Riyadh. His family — wife Ayesha Siddiqua along with her two sons Mohiuddin Ali and Hidayat Ali – joined him in 2003. The two boys joined school in Riyadh where they studied up to fourth standard. Later, six children – 3 daughters and 3 sons — were born in Riyadh.
After some time, Mohammed Ali developed some differences with his employer, who declared him an absconder as his Iqama had expired three years ago.
In the face adversity
The young children lost their mother, Ayesha Siddiqua, a year ago. Their father, Mohammed Ali, who was overcome by grief, was already under stress of being jobless as he had to take care of a large family. After the death of his spouse, he fell sick, which added to his financial hardships and complicated his visa status.
Mohammed Ali desperately tried to leave the Kingdom along with the children, after death of his wife but his visa status prevented him from leaving. Mohammed Ali, who was humble and sensitive, didn’t reveal to anyone about his conditions, said sources.
He was bed-ridden and not in a position to even afford medicines, and his sons, who were supposed to be in school, were working in workshops doing menial jobs to support their bed-ridden father and siblings. After a year-long struggle, their ailing father passed away on March 8, 2019. The children became orphaned without any family or financial support.
Five Hyderabadi Good Samaritans, who are living in Riyadh and requested anonymity, came to know about the plight of the children and gave them shelter in their homes. They approached the Indian Embassy through noted social worker Shihab Kottukad of Kerala for help. Kottukad pursued their case on behalf of the Embassy with the Saudi authorities and got exit clearance for the children by getting the fee waived.
The children’s aunt, Hajra Khan, who lives in Canada, came to know about the ordeal of her nephews and nieces and sponsored them to come to Canada. She sent her two sons to Riyadh to escort the children to Canada.
The Canadian Embassy in Saudi also showed a humanitarian approach in the case and opened their mission on Easter Friday to issue visas to the children, who technically were not eligible to apply for visas as their Iqamas had expired long ago and their Indian passports were nearing expiry in a few days.