25-year-old Sonia Tamang, who is a resident of Motithang in Thimphu and currently working in a call center in Kolkata does not have enough funds for her airfare back to Bhutan as her company has not paid her salary for around a month and a half and it is currently shut.
She first contacted the Facebook account of the paper saying that she has lost her job and is not getting paid due to COVID-19.
She said, “I am stuck here and I really want to come back to my country. Please help me out.”
Sonia Tamang said that the number of cases are increasing in Kolkata and she is scared.
Sonia said that she had contacted the foreign ministry for help and the foreign ministry in turn put her in touch with a Bhutan Consulate officer in Kolkata who informed her that the government would not be bearing the air ticket expenses for anyone.
She said she was told to apply for Relief Kidu but she said that it would be too late for her now as the flight is on 15th May.
Sonia told the paper that it is not only her but she was earlier in a WhatsApp chat group of Bhutanese in Kolkata and around seven to eight Bhutanese comprising of a mix of students and employees said that they not have enough money for the airfare on them.
Sonia had also missed the previous flight from Kolkata as she could not afford the flight ticket.
The consulate officer asked her to source airfare money coming to Nu 11,000 from her family or friends in Bhutan, but Sonia explained that she is in fact the one who sends her family money and they are in no condition to help her financially.
She said, “My younger sister works in a hotel in Thimphu but she has no income now. My father is a driver in a private company but his earning goes into paying the Nu 7,000 rent and running the household and my mother is a housewife.”
Far from having any airfare Sonia does not even have money left for food.
She has been surviving on the loans of Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 given to her by her female flat mate and friend who works in the same company.
Sonia has also not been able to meet her share of the rent of the apartment which the landlord has thankfully not asked her yet.
Sonia said that she has been working in Kolkata for the last two to three years and she gets a salary of Rs 16,000 of which 1,000 is deducted and she gets Rs 15,000 in hand of which she sends money home too.
Sonia Tamang and her family hail from Samtse Dzongkhag but are settled in Thimphu.