Nurses were in Iraq to repay loans
Kochi: The inability to repay the educational loan they had taken forced many nurses to look for jobs in trouble-torn places like Iraq. As per the estimates of the United Nurses Association (UNA), there are nearly 30,000 nurses working with private hospitals in the state who are facing revenue recovery (RR) proceedings for the education loans they have so far failed to pay back.
A majority of the 46 nurses who returned from Iraq on Saturday were earlier working in small hospitals in various parts of New Delhi where they were paid around Rs 5, 000 per month. They left for Iraq as they were promised Rs 48, 000 per month in the state-run Tikrit Hospital.
“I was forced to dole out Rs 1.6 lakh to the agency for the Iraq job like others with me. We arranged this by borrowing from relatives and friends. Now we don’t know how we can help out our families,” said Vidya K Viswabharan, whose family is in danger of losing its 3.5 cent land at Karukatara at Pathanamthitta due to a default on the bank loan. The family has to pay back around Rs 5 lakh to the State Bank of India, Mepadam branch, from which it took loans to educate the two daughters.
Jayarani Santosh of Aluva, another nurse who came back from Iraq last month, is still harbouring the idea of going back to that country once the current crisis is over. “I was working as a nurse at Dewan Hotel in Kurthistan, a city on the Iraq border. Luckily, I returned on leave on June 24 just before the war situation got so heated up. The problem with staying in India is that we won't be paid decently. If I don’t get a good job and good pay here, I may go back once the war ends,” she told DC.
Though the State government recently declared a one-year moratorium on recovery proceedings of the educational loans, the banks may pounce on the nurses once this relief period is over. Adding to their woes is the drying up of job opportunities in Europe, the US and traditional Gulf destinations.