DHAKA: Khurshid Alam, 55, was watering the orchard in his backyard on Oct. 25, 2014 when he received news of the sudden death of his wife, Sufia Akhter Jusna, in the UAE.
Sufia, 46, was a mother of six and her family’s sole breadwinner due to her husband suffering from a medical condition. She had been working in Dubai as a carer for two young boys, aged six and ten. On Oct. 24, whilst at the beach, the pair were dragged out to sea by a strong current. Sufia swam to their rescue, but drowned in the process.
“I fainted upon receiving the news and laid unconscious for hours. She was about to complete her job in Dubai and return home soon,” Khurshid said.
“She went to Dubai to make ends meet as I couldn’t do any tough work due to chronic asthma. My wife always dreamed of a brick-built house instead of a tin-sheet house. During our last conversation, just two days before her death, she said she had saved enough money to build it.”
Sufia’s body was flown from Dubai a week later, and she was laid to rest in her native village of Dharmapasha in Sunamgonj, 194 km from the capital Dhaka.
On April 9, her sacrifice was recognized by the UAE in a ceremony held at its embassy in Bangladesh.
Ambassador Saed Mohammed Al-Mheiri presented a medal of honor to Sufia’s family, as well as compensation of $5,500.
Al-Mheiri said: “We express our deepest gratitude for her sacrifice, and the UAE will always support bereaved families.”
A school in Sufia’s name in Sunamgonj was also approved, which, though still under construction, is already teaching pupils. Funded by the UAE-based charity Dubai Cares, the initiative came at the direction of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, and is being overseen by the UAE Embassy in Dhaka.
Sufia and Khurshid’s eldest daughter, Luva, said: “Everything suddenly changed for our family after the sad demise of my mother. My father now has to struggle very hard to provide for my five teenage siblings.
“The loss is profound, but I am proud of my mother, who never thought twice about saving those boys, in whom she saw a reflection of her own children.”