Hundreds of Indonesian migrant workers who have been forced to live under a bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, arrived in Jakarta on Friday morning.
Rosyandi Monzier, spokesman for the National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI), said 336 Indonesians arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at 10:20 a.m.
The group comprised 302 migrant workers, 15 children and 19 infants.
The Indonesian government had paid for the flights and would pay for the workers to return to their home villages throughout Indonesia.
Two of the returning workers spoken to by the Jakarta Globe spoke positively of their experiences in Saudi Arabia.
Zaenab, 34, from Sumedang, said she was happy to be home but wanted to return to Saudi Arabia.
“I earned 800 riyals [Rp 1.9 million] per month and it was a lot of money. I was lucky to have a good employer, therefore I want to go back to Jeddah,” Zaenab said.
She said if her employers were not good people, she would not have worked for them for 2 years and 4 months.
Asked how she ended up living under the infamous bridge, Zaenab said she regularly sent her money home to her family and did not have enough cash to return home once her contract ended.
Halimah, 50, from Situbondo, had a similar story but unlike Zaenab said she did not want to return to the desert kingdom.
“I think it’s time for me to rest after 5 years of hard work in Jeddah to send my children to University,” Halimah said.
“The 5 years were a good experience: I earned 1200 real per month; my children have been going to university. What would I look for next? I am too tired to work as a cleaning lady in Saudi,” she said.
“I miss my family and I want to be with them,” she added.