Ashraf Thamaraserry – Social worker who helps repatriate dead bodies

Ashraf ThamaraserrySummer is a busy season for Ashraf Thamaraserry, an Ajman-based social worker, who has been voluntarily helping repatriate dead bodies from the United Arab Emirates.

Recently, when the husband of an Indian Consulate staffer died of pneumonia, the consulate official sought his help to speed up the repatriation of her husband’s body.

Similarly, a 42-year old Chinese man died of heart attack and a Chinese woman approached Ashraf seeking his help to repatriate the dead body.

Ashraf using sign language, as he does not speak Chinese, helped with the repatriation of the deceased Chinese.

Ashraf says there is no language barrier to communicate with the bereaved family members, because they all speak one language – what they need in such a situation.

“They want help with the speedy processing of documents from police, hospitals, embalming centres, cargo and airlines.”

“This May (2016), I have helped with repatriation of 13 dead bodies. The summer is a season of heart attacks and many heart attack cases are reported when the temperature goes up,” he said.

Ashraf said he has helped repatriate over 3,320 dead bodies from 30 plus countries and with 600-plus local burials in the UAE.

“Earlier, I did not keep all the details. Now, I keep a copy of the death certificate, the cargo and airline tickets and other certificates,” he said.

Most of the dead bodies that he has repatriated belong to Indians and Pakistanis. Dead bodies of other nationalities from Europe, America, China and Middle East are also included in his list of the dead.

‘The Man who Embraced the Dead’ written by Mrithyuvin Karam Pidichhu, was recently launched in Dubai on Ashraf.

The sketch of Ashraf’s life in the book published by Dubai-based Chiranthana Publishers says he was a truck driver in Saudi Arabia for a few years, and in Ajman he used to ride a cycle to reach his office. Today, he runs a garage in Ajman, but much of his time is devoted to helping repatriate the dead.

A movie is also planned about this real life hero.