Faith Wanjiru Karanja, a single mother of two, from Wangige in Kikuyu was hard-pressed to seek greener pastures in the Arab countries to fend for her children. She looked forward to the new opportunity hoping it would change her fortunes for the better. But what she thought was the Promised Land turned out to be a land of slavery that almost cost her life. Faith shared her sore experience with MWAURA MUIGANA.
My marriage hit the rocks in December 2006 and I left my matrimonial home in Eldoret to move back to my parents’ home in Wangige in Kikuyu. I found a job as a hairdresser but the pay was little and making ends meet was very difficult. As if misfortunes don’t come singly, my then seven year old son, Victor Nderitu, was seriously injured in an accident in June 2012 that left him with a piece of wood, which went through his mouth and got stuck at the back of his neck.
He was admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital for an expensive operation. Although my family met the hospital bill, I promised myself not to be a financial burden to them again. I shared my predicament with a friend who advised me to seek greener pastures in Saudi Arabia where many jobless Kenyans were seeking employment. A recruitment agency in Nairobi offered to get me a job. My family offered to take care of my children if I got the job.
In June 2012, I joined many other jobless Kenyans in a Saudi Air flight to start a new life in Saudi Arabia as a domestic worker. The offer put on the table by the agent was quite attractive. A salary of Ksh 18,000 a month, eight working hours a day, and free meals and accommodation. We happily chatted on the flight about how our lives would change for the better once we got to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi Arabian national on the flight heard our animated discussions and advised us to ensure we hid our phones once we got to our employers so they are not taken away from us, as we might need a phone someday. Although I didn’t understand what she meant at the time, I heeded her advice when I got to my employer’s home.
My employer, a lecturer, picked me from the airport in Riyadh and I was lucky he spoke English so we communicated very well. He was warm and welcoming but we didn’t talk much on the six-hour drive to his home where I met his wife and three children aged four and nine month old twins. My duties were explained to me and they included housekeeping and taking care of the children.