All Sujana Tulasi, a native of Andhra’s West Godavari district, dreams of is being reunited with her two daughters. Instead, the 35-year-old woman is stranded in Kuwait, unemployed, injured in a road accident and facing charges of theft from her allegedly abusive sponsor.
Sujana has been living in the Farwaniya Hospital for nearly six months, after she met with a major road accident on October 31 last year.
"My hand still hurts a little, but I am feeling much better. I just want to go back to my children and give them an education. I regret coming here," she tells TNM.
According to social workers who are trying to aid Sujana in returning, she first went to Kuwait over a year ago with the hope that she could save some money for her children’s futures.
However, soon after she reached her employer's house, claimed Sujana, the harassment began. "They used to torture me a lot when I used to work as a maid. I really wanted to work. However, I didn't have food, and I didn't even have time to sleep. I couldn't take it anymore, which is why I ran away from their house. This was my first mistake," Sujana says.
After escaping from her employer's house, Sujana says, she bought a tailoring machine and did some tailoring work in Khaitan city, managing to rent a small room and survive with that money. However, even these meagre earnings ended when the accident occurred.
"On October 31, I was rushing to go home and I had almost crossed the road. The vehicle was speeding and came out of nowhere and hit me," she narrates.
"I have nobody here to care for me. There was one pastor who saved me, and brought me to this hospital. The people who owned the car told the pastor that they had insurance and will pay the hospital bill. However, they absconded after that," Sujana says, as she breaks down.
Sujana says that she has no family members to look out for her. Her husband, she says, abandoned her with the two children in Andhra itself. He had not made any efforts to enquire about her health after the accident.
To add to Sujana’s woes, her sponsor filed charges of theft and absconding against her at the Firdous police station.
Her sponsor, identified as Nawaf Bufari, was contacted by officials of the Indian Embassy and allegedly demanded 800 Kuwaiti Dinar to drop the case. He also threatened to take action against anyone who tried to facilitate her repatriation.
When asked about it, Sujana says, "I worked there for three months, and for the last month, they didn't even pay me the salary. Still I didn't complain. The case is completely false and he filed it against me because I ran away."
According to the hospital's medical report, Sujana injured her ankle, her back and her right hand.
With her stranded in the hospital for such a long time, social workers and government authorities are working to bring Sujana out of the hospital and back to India. Social workers are trying to pool in money to pay her hospital bills, so that she can be discharged from the hospital.
In a letter to the Kuwait government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February this year, the Indian Embassy there has asked the former to intervene and help Sujana return home.
The Indian Embassy has also offered to issue her an Emergency Certificate to travel, in case her passport is not recovered, and assured her that it will provide an air ticket.
However, Sujana will be unable to travel until the case is dropped.
Activists estimate that Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of people emigrating as domestic workers from India, with over two lakh women working as house helps in Gulf countries.
They also say that agents constantly find loopholes, and violate existing laws, to cheat women from economically backward classes.
Sujana has two children, 13-year-old Jaswanthi and 12-year-old Jahnvi, waiting for her back home in West Godavari district.
"They stay in a government hostel at Attili, and they're the only reason for me to live now. I want to go back, find some job, and ensure that I can feed them. They are both very bright children, and study very well," Sujana adds, as she breaks into sobs again.