A 48-year-old man from the state, who claims that he was "forced" to work as a shepherd in Saudi Arabia for three years, now campaigns in villages here on the "perils" of going to the Middle East for work.
S Seran, a tailor by profession, hailing from village of Sannasinallur, about 90 km from here, was promised a tailor's job with a good salary in that country, he said.
He claimed that he paid Rs one lakh as processing fee to an agent. However, only after reaching the foreign land, did he learn that he was "cheated".
"I was told that I could go back home only if I agreed to work as a shepherd for three years," Seran said. "A tin-sheet was my home and a hard roti was my food for three painful years and the salary was 500 Riyal, just one tenth of what I was promised," he claimed.
During his campaign, he travels to villages, major bus terminals in the district besides places where people congregate in large numbers and distribute pamphlets on the perils of unskilled workers going for jobs in unknown places in the Middle East.
A famililar man in Cuddalore district, he carries with himself a trademark black suitcase. Interestingly, the suitcase has slogans in white and red letters aimed at sensitising people "on the perils of going abroad for work".
"Nan velinaatil aadu meithavan (I reared sheep in a foreign country)," says a slogan on the one side of the suitcase in Tamil.
"Velinaatil..Saudi..Iraqil pathikkapatta Tamilargalukku neethi vendum, (Do justice to Tamils affected in Iraq and Saudi)," slogan on another side of the suitcase says. Seran has also co-founded a charitable trust to help unskilled workers holed up in foreign countries.
"Look at newspapers...Everyday you can find news on Tamil workers in trouble somewhere trying to get back home. It is really painful that there is not much awareness on working conditions in such countries," he said.
Seran said many like him were lured by the attractive salaries which in most cases turn out to be "misleading and false". "Even if you are sick, you cannot hope to get leave. There are no fixed work hours and no framework to protect your interest," he claimed.
Seran asks people to be cautious while leaving one's homeland, if at all they choose to do so.
"Still if you want to go abroad don't go by what your agent says. Do your checks and understand the dos and dont's. If your son or relative faces a problem and wants to get back home, approach the district collector," Seran tells people during his campaign.