Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a Dubai based Kerala expatriate has sponsored flight tickets of 61 stranded Keralites from UAE to Kerala to honour the memory of his late son who died in a car accident last year.
"These are people in a lot of pain. Most of them belong to the blue-collar workforce and have lost their jobs with no financial strength to return home. I wanted them to go home and be with their loved ones," TN Krishnakumar told The Indian Express.
Krishnakumar spent nearly Rs 14 lakh on the tickets and the flights were chartered by All Kerala College Alumni Front (AKCAF), a volunteer group founded in UAE consisting of alumni from 85 science and art colleges in Kerala.
Krishnakumar has been an active member of AKCAF and has been at the heart of its volunteering efforts from distributing food kits during Iftar in labour camps, dispatching volunteers and aid when Kerala was hit by floods in 2018 to finding quarantine centres for asymptomatic people in the UAE amid the COVID-19 crisis.
When some financially-weak Keralites were trying to return home, the 53-year-old initially arranged tickets for six persons on separate flights. Later, when AKCAF decided to charter a full flight for 191 passengers, he decided to sponsor tickets for 55 of them. A FlyDubai flight carrying the passengers took off from Dubai on July 25 and safely reached Kochi a few hours later.
"It was a collective effort. Everyone contributed in their own way. The people who flew home that day were mostly those who had lost their jobs and who had medical emergencies. Whatever you say, Kerala is home for all of us and they deserve to go home," he said.
Krishnakumar lost his youngest son Rohit (19) on Christmas last year when he was killed in a car accident within half-a-kilometre of their home in Dubai.
"No matter how much money we earn, sometimes money means nothing. I realised it when I lost my son in front of my eyes and I stood helpless," Krishnakumar was quoted by The Times Of India.