Indian workers
Another group of Indian workers flown back home from Dubai ahead of Diwali. Image Credit:

Dubai: A group of Indian workers stranded in the UAE amid COVID-19 pandemic managed to fly home from Dubai in time for Diwali, the festival of lights, thanks to the support from VFS Global.

The visa outsourcing and technology services company said it swapped corporate hampers with aid for paying fines and buying tickets during the festive season to support the Indian government’s efforts to repatriate distressed Indians.

Cleared fines

VFS Global sponsored return flight tickets and cleared the pending visa fines of the workers who were abandoned by their employer and not paid for over a period of 10 months, the firm said in a press release.

“Instead of gifting customary corporate hampers, VFS Global made a donation as a way of giving a meaningful gift on the occasion of Diwali to its business partners,” it said.

The workers flew in batches from Dubai to Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, in time to celebrate Diwali — the auspicious festival of lights — with loved ones.

Consulate help

The consulate assisted the workers to exit the country by facilitating their repatriation process. Upon receiving the clearance to exit the country, Rajesham Yennam, one of the stranded workers with an expired visa and no money to support a living, expressed a sigh of relief. He was quoted as saying: “I am very happy to see my return ticket. I have already informed my family that I am coming home. I am now excited to celebrate Diwali with them.”

The consulate has helped many workers to return home safely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some still continue to face a plethora of challenges in their attempt to return home. These include expired visas, pending fines and lack of funds to book return flights among others, said the release.

Less fortunate

Peter Brun, chief communications officer who is responsible for CSR initiatives at VFS Global said: “This Diwali, we wanted to make a difference by illuminating not just diyas, but also the lives of some less fortunate families around us. We made a meaningful contribution through the Indian Consulate here in Dubai to expand our support for the Indian community. VFS Global has a deep appreciation for the consulate’s efforts to repatriate stranded workers and to unite them with their families to celebrate the festive season.”