Foreign employment proves less boon, more curse for migrant workers' families in Saptari

RAJBIRAJ: Foreign employment on one hand has proved to be an important source of national income, but on the other hand it has also been the cause of despair to families of persons going out of the country to earn their livings.

“No-one is immortal, but a person who had promised to live happily after working hard for a few years passes away, then who would not be despaired?” said Anita Devi Mehta before breaking into tears.

Anita Devi (44) of Maleth, Rajbiraj Municipality-9, Saptari, has been struggling after her husband Gulabchan Mahato passed away. He had been earning his living through farming and labour work before he decided to go abroad, worrying for his children’s future.

In 2012, he went to Saudi Arabia for employment. He used to work for GS Gas Company in Jubail before being transferred to the Riyadh branch of the same company. He worked there for about five years.

While working there he injured his left hand, but when his hand did not heal, he came back to Nepal. His hand had to be amputated after he was diagnosed with cancer to which he succumbed on May 2017.

Anita expressed her disappointment that they had not received any compensation or insurance money, citing that the limit period had been crossed. Her son had also dropped out of school because there was no one else to earn the living.

She said with regret that her husband might still have been alive had he not gone to the foreign land. Pointing to a one-storey concrete house she said, “He suddenly started building the house, probably knowing he would not survive. How can I ever forget him while living in the house that he built with his blood and sweat?”

Shambhu Khanga of Shambhunath Municipality-7, who had gone to Malaysia in 2011 for employment, never woke up after he suddenly fainted in April 2016.

Manoj Kumar Mandal of Belhi Chapena Rural Municipality, who had gone to Malaysia in 2014, was sent back to Nepal after being unable to clear his medical test. He had mortgaged 3 kattha of his land that he never got back and lost his mental stability.

According to the statistics from Information Centre, the number of people who lost their lives abroad has reached 124 since the fiscal year 2008/09. Three persons from Saptari have already lost their lives only this year in their pursuit of foreign employment leaving families behind to suffer and struggle.

The number of Nepali workers in foreign employment has reached 74,709 since the fiscal year 2010/11 till date. Of them, 33,252 Nepali workers are in Malaysia, 16,681 in Saudi Arabia, 17,039 in Qatar, 1,942 in Kuwait, 2,797 in UAE, 179 in Oman, 164 in Bahrain, 196 in Jordan, and 2,459 in other countries, according to the Coordinator of Information Centre, Ram Pramesh Mandal.

The data also shows that there are about 75,000 people working abroad from Saptari district only.