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Chana Steve went to Saudi Arabia in 2014 in search of greener pastures but came back with harrowing tales of how she was thrown into the desert by her employer who left her to die. Luckily, a good Samaritan who passed through the desert found her when she was almost on the verge of death, bought her snacks and took her to the Kenyan Embassy for travel arrangements back home. She narrates her ordeal to SILAS NYAMWEYA.
Please tell us your background…
I am the eldest daughter in a family of four. My parents died while were were young and I was forced to take care of my siblings who were looking up to me for survival.
Why did you decide to go to Saudia?
That was the only option for me at that time. Having lost my mother, I was like a parent to my younger sister and brothers. So, I had to do everything possible to ensure that my siblings get basic needs and even schooling. When I heard about opportunities in Saudi Arabia and that one could actually get good money, I opted to give it a try.
How did you to go there? Is it through an agency or other means?
I went through an Agent.....In those days, there were offices all over in Nairobi dealing with recruiting people for jobs in the Guld...so I just walked in to one ad showed them my interest ad they took care of me. The agent that I was dealing with took care of everything including passport processing, and fare. I only presented myself with my ID.
Had you heard stories about Saudia before?
No I had no story about Saudi ....This is because I was just living in the village where information about some places including Saudia were scanty. In fact I just came straight from the village it was my first time in Nairobi when I met that Agent and I did not meet any other person afterwards.
Can you briefly describe the kind of family you were working for?
Generally, I didn’t work for a very rich family. I worked for an old widowed woman; the husband had died in a road accident. She was a Muslim of course and she had 9 children. However, the woman’s children were old and married. The older eldest some was living with the woman and she was very harsh.
How is Saudi culture different from the Kenyan one?
The Muslim culture dominates the Saudi cultural experience. However, people are more united and there is a higher social agility compared to here in Kenya. Muslims live in love and harmony; they value their culture a lot. They also hate Christians with passion. Another interesting thing is that they can intermarry with their cousins, that is, it is not taboo to marry cousins to enhance unity among themselves.
What were your responsibilities in that family?
I used to do all the house chores plus taking care of the old woman in that house.
You said you were mistreated, how?
I started experiencing mistreatment after the old woman passed on. The woman’s older daughter took me in as her servant. This one gave me a lot of work to the point that I became ill due to fatigue.
You told us that your employer threw and left you in the desert for you to die, why?
This daughter whom I was staying with after their mother died was inhuman. After I became ill, ...she told her husband to go and kill me in the desert....but her husband feared God ad so he left me far in a desert ..
So how did you come out of the desert?
While in the desert for 3 days, a Pakistan driver passed from a distance, I tried to stop him ......he first passed in a high speed and then came back after realizing there was a human being trying to stop him. As we shared and I told me what had befallen me,he pitied me, took care of me as a good Samaritan,bought me juice and a cake,and then took me to a Kenyan embassy in Saudi. While in the embassy, you are guaranteed to come home for free...and so from there I came back home....
Why do you think many Kenyan women still go to Saudi?
The fact is that, Kenya doesn’t have room for non educated youths like m.....and so they are left with no option other than look for better prospects and an opportunity to earn for their lives in gulf countries. However, there are still some good employers out there in the Gulf and if you are lucky, you can get an understanding and caring one.
Silas Nyamweya (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on September 29, 2021:
thanks for that addition emge
MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 29, 2021:
Reading this was very painful. I have been in the Middle East quite a bit but Saudi Arabia is really bad. I remember of a case of a woman from Chennai working as a maid whose arm was cut by a Saudi with the sword and the Indian embassy had to intervene and bring her back. In contrast the UAE is absolutely wonderful.