Throughout these thirty years there have been innumerable incidents and cases that have deeply moved me, hurt me, brought me to tears, many moments of great joy and inspiration and many others that have left me speechless, said Jabir Maliyakkal, a migrant rights activist based in Oman.
Jabir has been selflessly and proactively helping migrants from various nationalities since 1982 and has held important positions in various diaspora organisations over the years.
“I have helped thousands; directly and indirectly. I was instrumental in getting the general amnesty declared which was used by more than thirty thousand, helped to airlift hundreds of mortal remains, helped hundreds of patients, domestic workers, and thousands of workers in distress,” he said.
Repatriation of the bodies of expats back to their home countries has been something that Jabir has taken up on himself after he realised how helpless many family members or friends feel as they are unaware of the rules and processes.
“I have aided in handling more than 3,500 death cases till date. From providing help to those in need of administrative, financial and logistical assistance, to airlifting the mortal remains back home and to bury or cremate locally since past 27 years,” he added. Apart from the cases of deceased, he has been involved in making arrangements for the necessary treatment and financial assistance to hundreds of sick and injured Indians before their repatriation back home.
For the past year, Jabir has been actively involved in trying to solve labour issues, counselling, advice and necessary directions to workers by reaching out to those in need and working closely with the Indian Embassy. “I have been campaigning through all available platforms to put an end to the exploitations faced by distressed Indian domestic workers in the Gulf countries for the past many years,” he said.
In his efforts he has rescued, found shelters, helped pay fines, and arranged to provide air tickets to many of them. He has played an instrumental role in appealing to the Government of Oman and convincing the authorities to announce general amnesty for undocumented and overstayed Indians during the years 2001, 2006, and 2009.
Jabir is also the representative of an Indian TV show Pravasalokam in Oman that attempts to help families reunite with missing relatives in foreign lands. “Over the past 16 years I have been able to locate and repatriate about 25 such Indians, it being the highest number from any other country in the world,” he noted.
Jabir, over the years has also been recognised by various reputed official bodies and organisations for his altruistic efforts in Oman. “The Kairali award in 2006, Rajiv Gandhi Award by the Priyadarshini Centre in 2007, Shifa Al Jazeera award by Shifa Al Jazeera group in 2011, The Telugu award by the Telugu Community of Oman in 2012, Social Achiever Award by the SAI group in 2012, the best social worker award by the Malayalam channel Media One in 2013, Pravasi award by Kuwait based Kerala Arts Lovers Association in 2014 are a few such recognitions I was honoured with,” he said.
He was chosen as the NRI of the year 2016 in philanthropy category by Times Now/ICICI quite recently. “This is considered the highest award honouring legends who have made their mark on foreign shores,” he revealed.
While Jabir has proven to be an inspiration for many people over the years, he has also been a messiah to the hundreds of distressed expats and has gone out of his way to help.
“I do not expect anything in return from any of those who have come seeking my help and any of whom I have provided assistance to. At the end of the day, the satisfaction I derive from playing my part in society is all that I look forward to and this drives me further in my attempts of bringing a positive change in society,” he said.