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Mohandhas Aiyapillai and his wife Kamala leaving for Dubai airport as they finally go back home. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Following a report in Gulf News, generous readers have helped repatriate an Indian expat in the UAE, who had lost his vision and survived four heart attacks and COVID-19.

When the report was published on December 29, 2020, Mohandhas Aiyapillai, 59, had no money to buy medicines and colostomy bags that collect his stool after a colostomy surgery, let alone pay his rent dues.

Having undergone four life-saving surgeries and a colostomy that could not be closed due to a lack of funds, Mohandhas was also struggling with hypertension and diabetes among other ailments that had crippled his life.

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Seeking help from philanthropists to settle the case for which he required about Dh60,000, the Tamil Nadu native had then told Gulf News that he would also be grateful to people who could help him regain his vision by doing surgeries that require Dh90,000 in the UAE.

It was high blood sugar that led to proliferative diabetic retinopathy and loss of his eyesight. He had said that he could not get proper treatment due to lack of money as he had lost his job as a technical manager with an insurance broker company in 2011.

Readers rally with support

Moved by his plight, several Gulf News readers rallied to pool as much as Dh124,000 to help him settle his rental case, pay for his treatment and also clear his son’s pending college fees, because of which the latter had not got his university certificate even three years after finishing his graduation.

Speaking to Gulf News ahead of his flight to India on Tuesday evening, Mohandhas said he still could not believe he was finally flying home after 10 years. “My last visit was in December 2010, when I was leading a happy life here. Today, I am flying back as a very different man. I still cannot believe I managed to get repatriated. It’s all thanks to the large-hearted people who supported me.”

Mohandhas expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all the Gulf News readers who supported him, the Indian Consulate in Dubai and social worker Meenakumari Pathmanathan, president of Tamil Ladies Association, and her team members who took up his case with Gulf News and helped coordinate relief efforts. “Meenakumari madam came to my life like an angel. She has literally walked the extra mile meeting different people to support me amid this COVID-19 pandemic. When she suggested putting out an appeal in Gulf News, I didn’t expect such a great impact for that story. It helped me get not only the financial support, but also special consideration and care from various entities when I had to settle the rent case, clear an absconding case, get clearance from the immigration and police departments and also to get a new passport.”

Sympathetic gestures

He said the real estate company that had filed a rent default case agreed to bring down the amount to Dh30,000. The general manager of the company where he had worked earlier visited him and helped clear his absconding case, said Mohandhas. “Earlier, he was adamant that the absconding case will not be dropped. After reading about my plight in the report, he felt sympathetic and came forward to help me,” he said. Authorities in different departments have also been kind in giving him all necessary clearances for his repatriation even after the fine waiver period ended.

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Mohandhas Aiyapillai's wife Kamala packing their stuff as they finally go back home. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sporting a red T-shirt and black outerwear, Mohandhas had a new look with a French beard and he seemed beaming with joy about his journey. "After several years I got a shave. I have been in this country for about 33 years. Today, I am leaving peacefully all because of the kindness of the people here, especially the Gulf News readers. They have proved that there is still hope for people like me. But, I pray that nobody should suffer what I have suffered.”

He said people of different faiths and nationalities have supported him. “Some of them sent money individually and some sent as group contribution. One generous woman bore the entire amount for rent case and another one home-delivered clothes, groceries and even sandals for me, apart from sending money. I was so touched when one person sent just Dh300. That shows he could afford to donate only that much and still he did it.”

Treatment plan

Mohandhas said Rs1 million had already been sent to a hospital in Bengaluru in Karnataka, which has assured of treatment for his problems related to heart and eyes and colostomy closure. “I will be going straight to the hospital. They will send an ambulance to the airport. I have been assured that they will first do my heart surgery following which I can go for the eye surgery and then the colostomy closure,” said Mohandhas.

He said he was expected to remain hospitalised for some months and his wife would be given another room in the hospital. “Some of the Gulf News readers who supported me have told me to be in touch with them and they would try to help me later also. I have no words to thank those Good Samaritans,” he added.