The unemployment rate in Kenya is worrying and has driven many young people abroad in search of jobs, especially in the Middle East countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Given the ill-treatment reported in the Gulf, many Kenyans have fled back home to safeguard their lives. This is no different for Jane Waithera, who ran away from Saudia Arabia after alleged abuse from her employer.
Her decision to secure a job abroad was triggered by financial hardships after being abandoned by her mother, who had raised her singlehandedly.
Without a person to rely on for financial needs, Waithera was informed about an agent who sends people to Saudi Arabia by her friend.
Optimistic about her new assignment at the gulf, reality hit her on arrival as she had to clean her employer’s house the first night.
I sent mom money I earned in Saudi Arabia to build me a house; she ate all of it
“I noticed I had not seen the man’s wife the first weeks I arrived. He had six kids and not two as the contract had stated,” she said.
Troubled started when all kids left for school as the man of the house would sexually harass Waithera, a behavior that stirred her emotions, prompting her to launch an escape that almost cost her life.
“A friend told me to dress like a man since it was hard for a woman to break out. So I put on like an Arab man, even that scarf,” she said.
She was arrested after three men discovered she was not a man but bribed the police, who released her. She was later re-arrested by another group which called her boss.
Waithera was locked into a room but finally managed to convince her boss to let her out on the condition that she would never use a phone in his house.
She later managed to escape and got a job and a house elsewhere. Within one and a half years, she had saved KSh 400,000, which she had planned to start a boutique or a cereals shop with.
How drugs, sex, fights send some Kenyan girls to early graves in Saudi Arabia
When the government requested the people who had run away from sponsors to come back home, Waithera was excited to actualize her dream of entrepreneurship.
Things, however, seemed wrong after she arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, as her mother, whom they had arranged for a meetup, was missing.
After reaching out to her and inquiring about her money, her mother told her she had spent it. She added that she had planned to refund the money by the time Waithera came back.
“I always sorted out their issues, bought them a cow, and also helped them build a house. I found only KSh 30,000 in the bank. Nililia hadi nikamwambia sitawahi kuita mum,” recalled Waithera.
She is now appealing for a job and sponsorship for her son.