Student helps stranded women return home

Seventeen-year-old raises Dh40,000 to help 56 women get out of jail and return to their home countries.

Mirdiff - May 17,2011 - Abdullah Hussain Lootah, 17, contributed 40,000 AED to help domestic workers to poor to afford their own transportation to return to their home countries recently in Mirdiff, Dubai, May 17, 2011. (Photo by Jeff Topping/The National)
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DUBAI // When Abdullah Hussein Lootah heard that prisoners often remained in jail long after completing their sentences because of financial problems, he was moved.
And when the teenage student learnt that Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, chief of Dubai Police, had authorised a Dh200,000 diyaa, or blood-money, payment to secure the release of a Filipino prisoner trapped in exactly those circumstances, he was inspired.
The result was that Abdullah, 17, came up with Dh40,000 that will be used to help to pay for flight tickets home for 56 women - and their children - who have served their time in prison but have been unable to leave because of financial issues.
"My son was moved by the gesture and approached me to contact the prison to offer help to the prisoners in there," said Hussein Lootah, Abdullah's father. The money was entirely from their personal funds, he said.
Abdullah, a pupil at Dubai Modern Education School, handed the money over to prison officials yesterday.
Maj Gen Muhammad Hamid al Suwaidi, director general of Dubai Police's department of penal and correctional institutions, commended him.
"We value his humanitarian initiative," he said. "This gesture of Abdullah reflects his humanitarian and social upbringing."
Most of the beneficiaries were from India, Pakistan and the Philippines, said Lt Col Marwan Abdul Karim Julfar, director of the prison guard and chairman of the humanitarian services committee at Dubai Police.
"The female inmates have served their sentences in civil and criminal cases and paid their debt to society. However, they remained in jail because of their inability to pay for their flights home.
"I was contacted by Abdullah's father, who told me his son read about Lt Gen Khalfan's contribution and wanted to help. We informed them about the female prisoners and their need for financial help."
Several hundred prisoners with completed prison terms stay in jail every year because they lack financial resources, according to charity workers.
"I have seen between 150 to 200 such cases of people unable to return home after serving their sentences," said NP Ramachandran of the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress in Dubai. "Our association collects funds from its members, the public and the Indian Consulate to help these individuals."
RK Nair, of the Indian Community Welfare Committee, said his organisation was handling 13 cases of convicts sentenced to pay Dh200,000 each in blood money.
"We handle prisoner issues from two perspectives: diyaa money payments and return ticket arrangements," Mr Nair said.
"In both cases we arrange money through donations from volunteers and businessmen, and we also work with airline companies to arrange tickets for returning prisoners."
The Dubai Police humanitarian services committee also works with charity organisations such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Humanitarian Services Foundation, Al Maktoum Charity, the Red Crescent and Dar al Bir.
"We co-ordinate with them to help in the prisoners' humanitarian issues, especially in cases involving people with families, who they provide for and arrange for resolutions between them and the plaintiffs, as well as provide air tickets for deportees," Lt Col Julfar said.
The committee spent more than Dh1 million in donations last year.
"People have donated these sums in good faith, mostly to help in the release of prisoners who are incarcerated for their financial inabilities," Lt Col Julfar said.