Dubai: A mother of five children whose request for amnesty was recently approved by the authorities is now pleading with them to let her stay in the UAE on humanitarian grounds.
There are two major concerns holding back Malka Bari Bashkin — her husband remains in a coma in a Dubai hospital and she desperately wants to raise her children in the UAE.
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Her children — Rabia, 11, Sameena, 9, Sameer, 8, Imran,6, and 18-month-old Abdullah — have been illegal residents from the start. All, except Abdullah, are of school-going age, but education is a distant dream as things stand.
Malka shared her story with Gulf News, sitting on the carpeted floor of her one-bedroom accommodation in a villa in Rashidiya.
Although Malka, 31, is a Pakistani national, she was born and raised in Dubai. She got married at the age of 18. Her husband, Bashkin, who was working as a falcon trainer in Ajman, was hoping to sponsor her, she said. “He made several attempts to get me under his sponsorship from my father’s, but it just didn’t work out,” she recalls.
Things took a turn for the worse when her husband fell ill. “Once he returned to work, we thought things would get better. But they didn’t,” Malka says.
In 2010, her husband met with an accident that changed their lives forever. “At the time, I was four months pregnant with my youngest child, Abdullah. My husband was driving the four-wheel-drive of his employer without a driving licence when it crashed into a trailer. He has been in coma ever since.”
Since the accident was entirely her husband’s fault, the family did not get any financial compensation.
“He was brought back home from a government hospital in Ajman, but five days later, he fell ill again. This time he was admitted to a government hospital in Dubai. We were told that he contracted an infection,” she said.
Her husband continues to be in hospital. “It saddens me deeply when I think of how Abdullah has never seen his father, except as a person confined to a hospital bed. His father never got to know him,” a tearful Malka says.
Malka has been caring for her family, including her mother, by stitching clothes. The family also accepts alms donated by generous residents.
Malka is worried about her children’s future. “My eldest, Rabia, is 11 and has never been to school. I don’t want her to have the same future as me.”
Malka says her children are not receiving a formal education, but are learning the Quran and Islamic studies at a nearby mosque.
Thinking of the troubles she has endured as an illegal resident, and of the deprivation her children have faced, Malka finally decided to make use of the amnesty declared by the UAE Government.
Officials waived fines of over Dh400,000 that she accumulated as an illegal resident in the UAE for 14 years and issued her with an outpass. She was asked to leave the country before January 7.
But she had second thoughts when she found a job as a cashier in Ajman. “I hoped to rebuild my life by returning to the UAE and sponsoring my children. I went to the airport on January 2, but there I heard that I will not be able to return. I panicked as I was leaving behind my children and husband in the hope of returning.”
Eventually, she decided not to leave and appealed to the authorities to be allowed to take up her job instead.
Asked about returning to Pakistan, she said: “I feel safe here. It’s the place I know … where I grew up.”