Sheela Thomas

Indian Lawyer in UAE helped 2000 stranded expats

Sheela ThomasA Dubai-based Indian woman, Sheela Thomas is helping scores of stranded fellow Indian expatriates amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Arab Emirates.

Sheela Thomas, a lawyer by profession and social worker at heart has been a resident of the UAE for the last 25 years. The 41-year-old woman is nothing lower than an Iron Girl spearheading relentless efforts to rescue hundreds of stranded blue-collar staff and equipping them with an authorized framework to allow them to be repatriated in the primary accessible flights.

Sheela is helping jobless blue-collar expatriate Indian workers in UAE and she is not charging any cash for her work.


She has opened 2,200 files of distressed Indians hailing from the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to help them for their return to India. “Their paper-work needs to be sorted. Many of their visas have expired, passports still stuck with employers who are not releasing them for some reason or the other. I am taking care of all this work.” She was quoted.

She is doing a number of things for them; she tries to understand the workers' situation, talks to their employers to release their documents and passports so they can travel home, gets the paper-work in place and keeps it ready for their travel when enough flights are available. Besides, she and her fellow social workers are managing to arrange food for these workers and pay their rentals just to make sure they are not slapped with legal issues by their landlords.


“My mobile has turned viral. I am continuously receiving calls for help from stranded Indians and I don’t have the heart to say no,” she mentioned.

Sheela recalled that it all started with a food distribution programme in Sharjah's Rolla area. “There were several hungry people and my friends and I volunteered to deliver food for them. Soon they started sharing their plight and desperate situation. I realised they were all jobless and many were on expired visas, too. They said hiring a lawyer was too expensive and so they were just stuck in their rooms waiting for a miracle to happen.” She added. 

Sheela is doing all this work on a pro bono basis.  “It has been overwhelming for me. But I won’t give up. I have lived in the UAE for 25 years. This land has given me so much. It is time to give back to the UAE and its people. These men are the people of UAE and they need help now,” mentioned Thomas, whose state of origin is Kerala, however was born and raised in Hyderabad.

On a regular basis, Sheela prepares breakfast for 300 people from her residence. “I have a help at home and we cook together. Besides, we deliver food packets to those in need. What can I say … I just feel happy doing what I do. I hope more people volunteer and take inspiration from this,” she mentioned.


- by Subbu