DUBAI // Three women who remained behind bars after completing their sentences because they could not afford to fly home returned to Indonesia yesterday after an anonymous benefactor paid for their air tickets.
Their release from Abu Dhabi Central Prison is in part thanks to an Abu Dhabi resident, Rubina Umer, who collects funds to buy tickets for expatriate prisoners who have completed their sentences but can't afford to fly home. She has helped more than 200 prisoners to date.
Mrs Umer co-ordinates with prisons in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain to help jailed men and women.
She has been doing it since 2011 after reading a newspaper article about students who had raised Dh40,000 to help prisoners to return home.
In the latest case, a donor came forward to pay for the Dh1,340 tickets so that all three women could fly home to Indonesia.
"A brother came forward to take on this entire amount, saying he would like to help release them all," said Mrs Umer.
She said Abu Dhabi Central Prison contacted her to tell her about the women.
"We don't know why they were in jail," she said. "This would not have been possible without the help of friends and some good people who wants to always take part in charitable activities."
Most of those who have benefited from her fund-raising efforts are labourers who landed in prison after their visas expired.
Many workers borrow money to move to the UAE after recruitment agencies dupe them and end up as illegal workers without the promised jobs, she said.
"Once caught by the police they need to pay the penalty for overstaying," she said.
"As they haven't earned anything they cannot pay, so they are sent to prison."
Once their terms are up, they do not have the funds needed for a one-way ticket home, which can be as little as Dh550 to Dh1,500, depending on the destination.