Ordeal of eight orphaned Indian children comes to an end

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Social worker Shihab Kottukad, right, with the orphaned children before their departure to Canada.



Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH —
The heartbreaking ordeal of eight orphaned children following the death of their parents in tragic circumstances has come to an end with them finally leaving the Kingdom.

The children, ranging in age from 3 to 17 years, witnessed the deaths of their Indian parents within a span of one year and since then they passed through many traumatic experiences. They were deprived of basic education due to poverty. They often starved and struggled to get treatment for their ailing father following the death of their mother.

Prior to his death, the father became an illegal resident in the Kingdom after a dispute with his employer. The orphaned children were stranded in the Kingdom as a result.

They finally left for Canada where their aunt lives to embark on a new life with the help of authorities from three countries.

Mohammed Ali, a native of Hyderabad in India, was managing a mechanical workshop in the Shifa district of Riyadh. His wife Ayesha Siddiqua and two sons, Mohiuddin Ali and Hidayat, Ali joined him in 2003. The two boys joined school in Riyadh where they studied up to the fourth standard. Later, six other children – Ahmed, Shahnaz Fatima, Shahzadi Fatima, Abdullah Ali, Kulsum Fatima and Ibrahim Ali — were born to the couple in Riyadh.

After some time, Mohammed Ali had developed some differences with his employer, who declared him an absconder and his iqama expired three years ago.

The children lost their mother Ayesha Siddiqua a year ago and their father Mohammed Ali was grief-stricken. Already under stress because of unemployment, Ali became sick after the death of his spouse, adding to his financial hardship.

Ali desperately wanted to leave the Kingdom along with the children after the death of his wife but his absconder status, the expiration of residency visa and above all the closure of his employer's firm complicated the matters and he was prevented from traveling. A vehicle that registered under his name also proved to be an obstacle before his exit.

A person with high self-esteem, Ali didn’t reveal his problems to anyone. He soon became bed-ridden and could not even afford to buy medicines. His sons, who were supposed to be in school, started working in workshops. Doing odd jobs, they supported their bed-ridden father and starving siblings. After a yearlong suffering, Ali passed away on March 8. The children became orphans without any family or financial support.

Five good Samaritans – Shahnawaz, Qayyum, Saleem, Misbah and Zafar — who live in Riyadh came to know about the plight of the children. They gave the children shelter in their homes and approached the Indian Embassy through noted social worker Shihab Kottukad for help.

Shihab pursued the case on behalf of the embassy with the concerned Saudi authorities, who removed the absconder status of their dead father, waived all outstanding fees and processed exit visas for the children.

The children's aunt Hajra Khan, who is a Canadian citizen, came to know about the ordeal of her nephews and nieces, and decided to take them to Canada to live with her. She sent her two sons to Riyadh to escort the children to Canada.

The Canadian diplomats in Riyadh shared their humanitarian concern in this case by opening the mission during the Easter break to issue visas to the children.


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