ALL they wanted was to find a greener pasture. Although it means leaving their loved ones behind for a period of time.
Coming from a poor family in Kudat, the duo seeked advice from a friend who is currently working in Korea.
Hoping to ease their family’s burden, the two men decided to try their luck and enrolled with a supposedly recruitment agency for jobs abroad.
Not long after, their prayers were answered, and the two hopeful Sabahans believed they hit the jackpot when their applications went through.
But it does come with an expensive fee – about RM10,000 per-person for their return air tickets, and processing fees, including Visa applications.
The lucrative offer was too hard to resist, and the duo worked hard to raise the money with hopes to secure a well-paid job to provide better life for their family back home.
Finally, on Dec 9, both David, 41, and Franky, 27 (names are changed to protect their identities), boarded the plane for London, where they were given strict instructions – to wait for the agent to pick them up at the airport upon arrival.
Touching down on Heathrow Airport, both men had mixed feelings – sad because they had to leave their loved ones behind; excited to be at a new place; but also anxious because they are uncertain of their fate on foreign land.
But they brushed the feelings away and decided to concentrate on their new adventures.
They sat patiently at the airport, waiting for the promised phone call from the supposedly agent to take them to their work place.
They began to become uncomfortable as hours turned to days. No one came to claim them.
Finally, they went to the authorities and received a shocking news – they came into the UK with tourists Visa and were not allowed to work at all, their return air tickets were non-existence, and the recruitment agency does not exist.
With very little money to spare in their wallets, they shared a hotel room to stay. And the long wait at the airport before returning to their hotel became a routine. On the fourth day, they ran out of money.
“They finally seeked help and contacted a family that was currently residing in Australia. A Sabahan lady from Australia wrote to the Sabahan Abroad UK (SAUK) via Facebook Messenger.
“We were on our feet immediately after reading their plight. Working as a professionals in the UK, Leona, Nelda and I rearranged works and prioritise to meet our fellow Sabahans currently stranded at the airport,” said SAUK president, Alfred Raymond Edward, when contacted via WhatsApp.
Edward said when they finally met, the duo were hungry and tired, plus embarrassed that they came such situation.
“We quickly offered them food, and gathered information on their backgrounds and how they ended up here (London). Apparently, they were asked by the agency to tell that they’re teachers back home, hence the tourists Visas.”
Both men requested to be sent home, but unfortunately, the cost to fly out from London in December is very expensive, due to the long Christmas to New Year’s holidays.
“While SAUK provided food and accommodation and connecting them to Malaysia Embassy via Sabah-born Malaysian Diplomatic Officer, Jesse Quiban, in London, and with the help of their family and friends, we managed to raise enough funds to buy their air tickets.
“This only shows that Sabahans do stand up for our own fellow friends when in trouble.
“The duo had requested to go back together, and they are boarding the next flight home to Kota Kinabalu today (Dec 15), just in time for Christmas with their loved ones, ” said Edward.
Edward added that two of SAUK’s members, Nelda Hendon and Victoria Payne, had also agreed to host David and Franky while they were in the UK.
“This is the first time SAUK encountered such a case, but we do believe they are more victims out there, involving not just our fellow Sabahans, but Malaysians.
“Our advice to fellow Sabahans and Malaysians who wish to work abroad, before embarking on a new adventure, it is very important to read and understand all the terms and requirements to work in any particular country,” he advised.
He said there are so many opportunists out who are interested to just milk their victims’ hard earned money.
“Please be extremely careful and SAUK wish that you would not fall for too good to be true offers. Always check for any possible hidden agenda,” he said.
[NOTE: This article is written by Borneo Echo contributor]