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Citizen Messiah Reuniting Migrant Workers Stuck in Foreign Lands with Their Families Back Home

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Social worker Syed Abid Hussain (videograb from documentary)

“I rescue people who are stuck beyond the borders and need help. I rope in the foreign ministry, government and the respective embassy. I have helped more than a hundred people so far,” says Syed Abid Hussain.

New Delhi, March 19— “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” Mahatma Gandhi had once said. Syed Abid Hussain of Bhopal seems to have been inspired by the saying of the Mahatma. For the past few years, Hussain has engaged himself in the service of those migrant workers who get stuck in foreign lands and are helpless. With the support of India’s External Affairs Ministry and concerned embassy, he has rescued around 100 such distressed workers and reunited them to their families back home.

Below is a short video documentary on the work and achievements of Hussain. The documentary presented by SouthAsiaMonitor.org is part of Positive Journalism Feature supported by Frank Islam Foundation.

The text story below is based on the video documentary:

“I rescue people who are stuck beyond the borders and need help. I rope in the foreign ministry, Indian government and the respective embassy. I have helped more than a hundred people so far,” says Syed Abid Hussain.

With the job market falling short, India’s workforce explores employment beyond borders, but not without adverse repercussions. Tourists and migrant workers are easy targets for scamsters in foreign countries. The duping of vulnerable citizens, sudden loss of employment, arbitrary annulment of marriage, expiry of visas or simply straying across porous borders, has led to many citizens getting stranded outside the borders of India – waiting to be rescued.

Hussain is not your average social worker in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, but acts as a Good Samaritan to help such people in dire need.

“I believe every person was created to serve humanity. If you have come to this world then you should serve the society instead of working yourself,” says Hussain.

In the video, several migrant workers recall the ordeal in the foreign lands and how Hussain came up to help them out and bring back to the country.

“My name is Shailendra Kumar. Right now I am in Malaysia. An agent conned and tricked us. Had Syed Abid Hussain not come to my rescue, I don’t know how long I would have been stuck here,” says Kumar in the video.

Ashfaq Ali, also a migrant worker, says: “I came to Saudi Arabia to earn money and my agent tricked me. Syed Abid Hussain has helped me find a way back home to India.”

The citizen messiah has as his life’s mission the challenging task of reuniting families irrespective of their religion or community. Whether they are people who were conned abroad or wrongfully detained citizens, Hussain bridges the missing links in humanity.

Mahmood Alam, also a migrant worker, says: “I am Mahmood Alam. This is Jan-e Alam and my uncle Ainul Huda. Today we have our flight back to Delhi and we are so happy that we are going back to our country to be reunited with our homeland.”

Fondly known as the real-life Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Hussain is nicknamed after the Bollywood movie starring Salman Khan that made waves in India, Pakistan and many Asian countries where the hero rescues a mute six-year-old Pakistani Muslim girl separated in India from her parents, back to her hometown in Pakistan.

When did Abid Hussain, who works in construction industry, start working for distressed people?

“When a nine-year-old child had crossed the border from Bangladesh and strayed into India, I helmed a Twitter campaign online called #HelpRamzan in 2016. When I received support and appreciation from the former Minister of External Affairs of India, Sushma Swaraj, I realised that such few people are working on this and society needs a hand,” says Hussain.

“I gained popularity through this nickname on social media. All my accolades mention Syed Abid Hussain – the real Bajrangi Bhaijaan comparing my work with the Bollywood icon.”

Explaining how he helps such migrant workers, Hussain says: “I use emails, Twitter and WhatsApp to enable any action on the ground. We reach out to the authorities via email and they respond almost immediately. We share the relevant documents and details with the authorities. The embassy’s team rescues the person in distress and facilitates their journey back home.”

Mahmood Alam, one of the rescued migrant workers, says: “Syed Abid is like our brother since he rescues people who are stuck abroad. We would like to thank him, the Indian Embassy, and our government that they enabled our transit back.”

Hussain, who is in the construction industry, spends his free time on such altruistic activities.

“Till the time such boys don’t return home safely, I remain at the edge of my seat wondering how they must be doing if they are getting proper meals or accommodation. I try to weather all the storms for the society and I work relentlessly to ensure that I am available for them. I am not a lawyer nor am I very qualified. I have studied only till grade 12. But my field doesn’t require too much knowledge. Allah only looks at our intent,” he says.

Former US President Barack Obama had once said: “We are defined not by our borders but by our bonds.”