Saji Abraham, 47 (Kottayam, Kerala)
Indian evacuee from Yemen
Over the 11 years that he spent working as a manager with a private firm in Sana’a, Yemen, Saji Abraham, 47, built his life painstakingly there — his home, furniture, and savings.
However, when the West Asian nation plunged into a bloody civil war in March this year, and the Indian nationals had to be evacuated a month later, Abraham had to leave almost everything behind. “In an evacuation, a person is allowed to carry only 5 kg of luggage. We had to abandon everything we had bought to furnish our house. There was no one to buy the household items of foreign nationals fleeing the war-torn country,” says Saji, sitting at his home in Kottayam, where he now lives with his wife Pushpa, who worked as a nurse in Sana’a for 18 years, and sons Godson and Godwin, both under 10 years of age.
Abraham says that since the evacuation happened four days ahead of schedule, he could not even claim salary arrears and benefits from the company he worked for.
In Kottayam, Abraham, a graduate, could not find a job in any company, so he went back to re-learning basketball, which he used to play when he was in college.
“At a basketball tournament held in a school in Kottayam, I had an informal discussion with the school authorities about my plight. The school has hired me as its basketball coach for students since October,” he says. Abraham now coaches students in mornings and evenings on school days.
While his sons have been enrolled into a school, his wife is yet to find a job.
Abraham confesses he is looking forward to returning to Yemen in 2016. “It is difficult to get a job in Kerala or elsewhere in the country. Hence, I am thinking of going back to Yemen. Some of my friends have already returned there, and they say the situation is not so alarming now. I may follow them too, though I will leave my family behind.”
Abraham says he also needs to go back since his employer has to pay his “salary arrears and other usual perks”.
“Others may criticise me for going back to Yemen. But I have no other option.”
The five things he could manage to bring from Yemen:
He brought his secondary and higher secondary school certificates with him. But his wife could not bring back hers as they were submitted with the hospital where she was working.
As Abraham and his family were slated to leave for an annual vacation in Kerala, he had around Rs 50,000, which he brought.
He managed to carry the laptop as it was not included in the luggage.
Clothes were the only things they could stuff into their bags.
This document was essential, and more importantly, could help the family return to Yemen.