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Woman trapped for months in Saudi Arabia reunited with family

By Daniel Chege | June 30th 2021

Patricia Wanja with her seven-year-old daughter a day after she arrived in Nairobi from Saudi Arabia, where she had been trapped since March 7. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

A woman who had been stranded in Saudi Arabia for four months has finally reunited with her family.

Patricia Wanja Kimani, 28, landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on June 23 at around 1.15pm, happy that she had made it home alive.

Wearing the same dress she had in March when she bid her family goodbye at the airport, Wanja returned minus the fortune she had gone to seek in the foreign land. “I met my son at around 5pm, but I couldn’t meet my daughter until the following day because she was in school,” Wanja told The Standard.

Wanja recorded a video in which she was crying and saying she was being mistreated in Saudi Arabia. On May 21, her friends took to social media to push for her release under #ReleaseWanja.

Her story was also published in The Standard on May 24.

However, Wanja started receiving threats and on June 17 at 8.23pm. She texted this reporter and explained how tough it had been after her story went viral.

“A stranger from the company that hired me wanted to come and pick me up on June 13, saying my ticket and Visa were ready, but I had learnt that they were up to no good and I refused. I later learnt that they wanted to dump me on the streets at night,” read her text.

A stranger also called her using a private number and became rude when she confronted him and threatened to report the matter to police.

Her story came to the attention of International Organisation of Migration, who contacted the Kenyan Embassy in Saudi Arabia. “My flight ticket was sent to me but I was so skeptical. I only told a few people to ensure I don’t give false hope. However, the following day my passport was brought and it was real,” she said.

She, however, still cries for over 70 women still trapped in Saudi Arabia and has urged the government to help rescue them.

Wanja went to Saudi Arabia on March 7 for a domestic worker job that was to earn her Sh30,000 monthly salary. But once she reached JKIA, she was told she would be earning 900 Saudi Riyal, which translates to Sh24,000. [Daniel Chege]

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

Wanja said she had a rough time since her masters denied her food most of the times and was blamed for any little mistake in the home.

“There was a time I worked for 20 hours without food,” she said. 

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