LIMA: “I want to hug my mother. I miss her so much.” After being stranded in a foreign country for 12 years, this is what Nor Suzanna Azmi wants to do when she arrives at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport tomorrow.
The former drug mule is expected to arrive at 3pm.
She had asked her mother, Norliana Maarof, to cook pulut kuning (yellow glutinous rice) and bring it to the airport tomorrow.
“Put it in a food storage containers so that I can eat it as soon as I arrive. It’s been 12 years since I last tasted it,” she said in a video call to her mother in Kuala Lumpur while we were in her car, travelling from her home to the hotel for an interview on Friday.
Twelve years ago, Suzanna, who was 24, was detained at the Jorge Chavez International Airport here with 2kg of drugs in her bag when she wanted to leave for Madrid.
A young woman who loved to travel, she was duped by the exciting offer of free travel to countries like Madrid, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and Peru.
What she thought would be a fun experience turned out to be a journey to prison in a foreign country.
Now 36, Suzanna said she was persuaded to do it by an African man and a local woman in Kuala Lumpur.
Suzanna was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. But, luck was in her favour, when her appeal was accepted and she spent a reduced sentence of two years and six months in jail.
“After being released, I lived in a shelter run by the Gruta de Lourdes church for three years.”
She was grateful to Allah and thanked the nun, Sister Maria.
There, Suzanna and several drug mules from other countries took shelter and received Sister Maria’s help.
This included fellow Malaysian Syzlin Hataman of Johor. Syzlin and another victim, Noor Azimah Sapie, 38, who were stranded here for 10 years, were supposed to return home with Suzanna.
However, Syzlin, who had diabetes and asthma, died on Oct 7.
Suzanna tried a variety of jobs, including sales at a phone shop and packing shampoo for a factory.
“There was a desire to go back to Malaysia, but all kinds of thoughts played in my mind.
“Shame, disappointment and censure from people if I went back to Malaysia. I do not want to ruin my family’s name.”
At that time, she did not have money to buy flight tickets home. Her status as an illegal immigrant also made life difficult.
Suzanna often asked her family for money to help her out and they tried to help her whenever they could.
“They sent me money whenever they could but they were struggling to make ends meet.”
Suzanna met and married Peruvian Garlin Lever Quispe Sanchez (who later used the name Yusof after their marriage).
The couple have two sons — Muhammad Duler Akasyah Salas Azmi and Garlin Junior Quispe Azmi @ Huzaifah.
Suzanna’s plans to return home began in November 2016, when the writer covered the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) conference, attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Suzanna and Azimah met the writer and asked for help to bring Syzlin, who was unwell, home to Malaysia.
“We talked and the author suggested that we share our stories with the readers.
“As soon as the report was published in Berita Harian, several parties, including Umno, expressed their desire to help.”
Umno Welfare Bureau (BiKum) chairman Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, who is a Supreme Council member and Lenggong member of parliament, contacted the writer, and began planning for their return.
BiKum worked with Wisma Putra and the Malaysian embassy here with the help of its ambassador Chuah Teong Ban.
The BiKum officer, who was entrusted with this mission, is his operations secretary, Awie Shoubli Jamal.
Suzanna is grateful and thankful to BH, BiKum, Wisma Putra, the embassies and Najib, who facilitated their journey home.
“After waiting for more than a year, we are finally going home.”
She said she wanted to put her painful experience behind her and start a new life with her husband and children in Malaysia.
She is very grateful for being able to return to Malaysia to reunite with her beloved mother and family here.
“I do not care what people think of me.
“I know I made a mistake because I followed my heart and did not heed my family’s advice. I have paid for my mistake.”
Suzanna is keen to find a job and, perhaps, start a small business.
Fluent in Spanish, she is considering job opportunities in the tourism and translation sectors.
To Malaysians, Suzanna said: “Nothing is free, there are always strings attached. Be careful when making new friends and don’t believe in jobs that promise amazing perks like lucrative incomes and travel to exciting destinations.”
For Suzanna, her experience will be a lifelong memory and lesson.
Her main priority is to help her husband Yusof, 45, and their two children, Akasyah, 8, and Huzaifah, 5, adjust to their new life in Malaysia.