Kenyans travel to the Middle East in search of a better life, however, it has not been rosy for all.
According to Kenyans who have lived in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years, the disaster started around 2010 when murder, rape and torture cases were reported. The majority of the cases involved women.
The incidents are said to have increased when Kenyan women employed as domestic workers fled their employer’s homes and ended up in the streets. The women were labelled runaways and were targeted by killers.
One such victim was Irene. Her body was found dumped by the roadside and nobody could identify her. She was buried as per the Saudi Arabian law which states that anybody that is not identified within 28 days ought to be buried.
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Her incident motivated the Kenyans in the country to start a movement to help their fellow countrymen in distress. Kenya Society in Saudi Arabia (KSSA) started in 2012 and comprises doctors, managers, accountants, and communication experts, among others.
Sayeed Mohammed, the group chairman, said the name has since changed to Kenya Diaspora Community in Saudi Arabia (KDCSA). “The group helps Kenyans in distress, helps teach the Arabic language to newcomers, and helps transport dead bodies back to the country,” he said.
The group is one of organisations in the Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman).
Increased cases of unidentified Kenyans forced the KDCSA to start issuing IDs to Kenyans in the Gulf in 2014. Each Kenyan in Saudi Arabia paid 15 Saudi Riyal (Sh480) for the ID.
Foreigners in camps
When foreign offenders are arrested and enlisted for deportation, they are held in camps located across the Gulf. KDCSA, in conjunction with diaspora communities of Bahrain and Dubai, approached their embassies to push for amnesty to allow those listed for deportation to be sent home and not to the camps.
However, due to increased numbers, they were compelled to contribute money for transport. A Kenyan who wanted his daughter to go to the Middle East visited the camp one time and saw their suffering.
Mr Mohammed said Good Samaritans supplied food and water to the women in the camps. The organisation grew from the initial nine members to more than 50. The members volunteer to provide food and money for those in need.
When Kenyans die, the members have to raise up to 12,000 riyals (Sh377,000) to cater for mortuary and transport fees. When the group got recognition, they were faced with another challenge. Binti Mwanahamisi, 40, had been dumped in a hospital in serious condition.
Mr Mohammed said the hospital neglected her for almost two years because she had no family. “We found her crawling in the hospital. She had injuries and had been in the hospital for two years,” he said.
The organisation raised transport money and bought her a wheelchair.
JW, 40, was pushed out of a moving vehicle by people who had abducted her and wanted to sexually assault her in 2016. She says she was not in her right state of mind when she fled her employer’s office.
“I was told I was calling my children and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s name when I left the employment house,” she said, adding that in the process, she found herself surrounded by thugs. However, with the intervention of KDCSA, she was rescued.
JW is safe and back in the country.
According to Mr Mohammed, other such groups have been formed to help domestic workers in distress.