Singaporeans fulfill dying man’s wish to meet son in Bangladesh

Staff Correspondent | Published: 21:57, May 26,2020


A group of Singaporeans arranged a special flight to Dhaka to fulfill a dying Bangladesh national’s wish to meet his son and celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr back in home, reported Singapore newspaper The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Sikdar Rana, a 34-year-old shipyard worker in Singapore, was diagnosed last month with advanced stomach cancer and he was undergoing treatment at Singapore General Hospital.

He desperately wanted to go home to hold his six-year-old son one last time. He was initially due to fly home on May 19, but with the extension of a lockdown in Bangladesh on May 14, all flights to Dhaka were cancelled.

His doctors feared he might not survive the lockdown period, which is due to end on May 30.

Dr Cynthia Goh, a senior consultant from the supportive and palliative care division at National Cancer Centre Singapore, heard of his plight from her SGH colleagues last week and learnt that a medical evacuation flight to Bangladesh would cost around $55,000, and the next available commercial flight was some time early next month.

But, the report said, Sikdar's condition was worsening by the day and that they had to get him home quickly.

‘He may not survive till the country opens up again, so we wanted to find a way to get him home as soon as possible,’ Dr Goh, 70, told The Straits Times.

After asking around for help, Dr Goh was referred last Thursday to the Migrant Workers' Centre in Singapore, a migrant-worker welfare group backed by the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and employers.

MWC found two solutions. Pending the public appeal for donations, National Council of Social Service president Anita Fam and MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang agreed to underwrite the cost of evacuation in their personal capacities. This enabled trustees from the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund - MWC's humanitarian charity - to approve a letter of guarantee to medical evacuation company Hope Medflight Asia last Friday, the report said.

Through the aircraft charterer's union - Singapore Industrial and Services Employees' Union - MWC was also able to get a one-off discount on the charges. Hope Medflight Asia reduced the charge to about $48,000.

Concurrently, a public fund-raiser was set up on last Friday and, by Monday evening, the campaign target of $60,000 had been raised, which will cover the cost of the evacuation and also provide for the needs of Sikdar and his family, the report added.

Last Friday night, Sikdar left for home to usher in Eid and celebrated the end of the fasting month at home with his wife, mother and son on Monday, Sikdar told The Straits Times.

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