Coordinated rescue effort
Following his fall, Suresh received care in the orthopaedic ward of a Malaysian hospital for his spinal injury and was kept under psychiatric observation before being transferred to a nursing home.
Suresh was scheduled to fly to Kathmandu on 5 February after pressure from hundreds of Nepali employees at the company. But the airline refused to fly him because of his health condition.
Says Labour Attache Panthi, “The employer reached out to us to make agitated Nepali employees understand that the delay in Suresh’s repatriation was due to his health condition and not the employer’s apathy.”
There was also pressure on the employer to bear all medical costs till Suresh recovered. His condition subsequently improved and he was deemed fit to fly but either a doctor or a nurse had to accompany him, which was too costly.
Eventually, he was approved to fly with a non-medical personnel, a co-worker who was returning to Nepal.
In Nepal, Suresh’s father Prabhu had to make five trips to Kathmandu over the last few months. “The agent in Kapilvastu said he could help if I paid him Rs100,000. The recruiter Al Rahim says he is taking the case up with the authorities. That is a lie, he has no clue that my son is already coming home,” Prabhu says.
In a desperate plea, Prabhu and his wife appealed to MP Arjun KC to help bring their son home. Says KC, “It was just one case, but the amount of coordination needed was tremendous. We had to directly or indirectly engage with the Foreign Employment Board, the Nepal Embassy, Nepal Airlines and the hospital here for his repatriation and further recovery. One weak link and it would not have happened.”
Private airlines were hesitant to accommodate a stretcher but Nepal Airlines agreed. The Nepali mission put pressure on the employer to bear the medical and travel costs.
Without financial support from the employer or from the Foreign Employment Board, the only option would have been to rely on personal donations that would have further delayed the repatriation.
Among many stories of an uncaring state, there are stories like that of Suresh Teli where different agencies of the state came together, surpassing the expectation of the people who are conditioned to not expect too much from the government.