Sri Lankan family
Mohammad Fehrat Abbas with his wife and two sons at the Dubai International Airport. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: In a little over a month, a Dubai-based Sri Lankan family that was in dire straits was able to clear their debts and fly back home, thanks to the generosity of UAE residents.

Ishara Vijetunghe and her two sons Keyhan Abbas, 5 and Reyhan Abbas, 6, flew to Colombo on September 24.

The two children who had never been to school on account of the expiry of their visas and their family’s extreme financial crisis, will now be admitted to a school in Sri Lanka.

“I cannot thank the people who helped us enough. It is a great relief to see my wife and children finally able to go back home,” said a teary-eyed Mohmmad Fehrat Sinkaya Abbas, who had to stay back to still clear out some debts and is likely to join his family soon.

On August 18, Gulf News had reported that Abbas, a salesman, had lost his job in 2016, following which it was a downhill for the family.

He joined his wife’s freezone business of importing coconut peat fertilisers, but a series of bad transactions led to bankruptcy.

While Vijetunghe was jailed for some time because of bounced cheques, the family lost their residency and their visas expired.

Shared accomodation

They were living in a shared accommodation on charity and the boys could not be schooled.

The Sri Lankan Welfare Association was helping out but the family had a bad business debt of Dh52,000 and credit card debts with interest running to approximately Dh200,000.

190819 fehrat abbas
Mohammad Fehrat Abbas with his wife and two sons. The family wants to fly back home. However, outstanding payments prevent their exit. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

After the story was published, help poured in from across the world. This helped them negotiate their debts and resolve their court cases.

“Now we have a minimum amount left which I have transferred to my name so that my wife and children could fly out. My nephew sponsored their air tickets. In a fortnight’s time, I am hopeful of clearing the remainder and being reunited with my family in Sri Lanka,” said Abbas.

Albert George Hettiaratchy, manager of the Sri Lankan Welfare Association, told Gulf News that their organisation was able to get the family’s overstay fines waived off, while the Sri Lankan Consulate arranged the passports for the children.

“We are indebted to the community for coming forward generously to extricate the family from the financial mess they were in. We worked closely with the authorities to make their exit possible and are very relieved this crisis was resolved,” added Hettiaratchy.