Five nurses from Kerala have left to go back to Iraq having completed their leave.
Even as the ministry of external affairs is splitting hairs on how to evacuate the Indians stranded in strife-torn Iraq, they decided to go back as their service in this juncture is likely to earn them better returns. “Five of my colleagues have returned to Nasiriya (280km south of Baghdad) on Thursday morning.
Unlike Tikrit, the situation is normal there. We have been getting frequent calls from hospital authorities where we worked,” said Princy Seju, another nurse who is on leave now.
“Since most of us had paid a lot of money to get to Iraq, if we return emptyhanded now it will create financial burden on our family. That’s why they decided to go back,” said Princy, who paid Rs. 1.75 lakh to get her visa and travel papers.
She said there are nearly 1,000 nurses working in Iraq and most of them get $650-1,000 a month.
However, unlike her friends she said she would go back only after normalcy returns in Iraq. The poor working conditions and meagre returns in the country force nurses to take up jobs abroad, even in hostile conditions. Moreover, many of them take education loans and pay hefty amounts to just receive travel papers.
Statistics show that the number of Keralite women working abroad has increased drastically in last few years — about 70% them are either nurses or teachers.
Since an English eligibility test is not strictly necessary for the Middle East and African countries, most prefer working there.
“Nurses from Kerala are sought after because they are dedicated. They also act as a lifeline to their family members back home by sending money,” said Jeysamma John, who worked in a hospital in Dubai for nearly 25 years.
“Often, it’s the pitiable conditions at home forces them to take the risk of going to a hostile country.” Over 20,000 nurses pass out from the 100--odd nursing schools, government and private, every year. In private hospitals in the state, majority of them get between Rs. 15,000-10,000 a month.