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Friends now use social media to seek release of Kenyan held in Saudi Arabia

By Daniel Chege | May 24th 2021
Patriciah Wanja Kimani, a 28-year-old woman trapped in Saudi Arabia. Her friends have taken it to social media to push for her release. [Courtesy]

Friends of Patriciah Wanja Kimani, 28, who is trapped in Saudi Arabia, have taken to Twitter to push for her release.

Led by Willie Oeba, a Nakuru spoken word artiste, and Rachel Akinyi, a team of 39 members used hashtag #ReleaseWanja on Twitter.

Ms Akinyi, in an interview, said they partnered with social media influencers to ensure the story spread worldwide.

The group also tagged the Foreign Affairs ministry, State House, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, and other government officials hoping that they would intervene and help bring Wanja back home.

“Good Afternoon, Wanja Kimani is a Kenyan by birth who went to Saudi Arabia to fend for her daughter, but is held hostage and she can't come back home. Efforts to get her back through the embassy haven't been successful. Retweet widely to help her get home,” read the tweet that saw other conversations around the topic of women trapped in Saudi Arabia emerge.

By yesterday mid-morning, the post had more than 650 retweets and at least 350 likes. The conversation was the topic of discussion in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Kenya, and the USA.

Sharing own stories

“We have people sharing their own stories and searching for their people through the thread of the conversation as well. I believe that this will help bring others home,” Akinyi said.

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Oeba said it was disturbing to know how Kenyan women seeking job opportunities in the Middle East were mistreated.

“Wanja is not the only lady trapped in Saudi Arabia. When we contacted her, she said there were about 32 women with her, who were yearning to return home,” he said.

Wanja, who hails from Kiserian in Kajiado, left Kenya for Saudi Arabia on March 7, in search of a job in order to provide for her two children aged one and seven.

In an interview, Wanja said she was promised by her agent that she would be employed as a domestic worker and was to be paid Sh30,000 per month.

But while at the airport she was told she would be earning 900 Saudi Riyal per month which translates to about Sh24,000.

“Since they handled the payment for my travels, I had no option but to travel,” she said.

On arrival at her employer's house, she said her passport and mobile phone were confiscated.

Wanja says she had a rough time in the house, as she was denied food and blamed whenever things went wrong.

“There was a time I worked for 20 hours without food. I can't take anything to eat if ‘madam’ (employer) has not given me,” she said, adding that she was once forced to wash a wall with a toothbrush.

"I was given a lot of clothes to iron for more than six hours and I became sickly."

She then decided to record a video and tell her story while in tears.

“I was taken back to my agent’s office in Riyadh, on Friday and now I am desperate to return back home and be with my children,” she said. 


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