The high demand for domestic workers from Kenya by countries in the Middle East has spurred the proliferation of recruitment agencies in Nairobi and its outskirts.
In one of the recruitment agencies in Nairobi CBD, you will not miss dozens of women lining the halls, waiting for the turn to go to the land of "greener pastures."
Reports of Kenyan domestic workers being raped and tortured across the Middle East and haunting videos of Kenyan women pleading for help after allegedly being abused by their employers in the Gulf are not new. Interestingly, these have not deterred many Kenyans from seeking and going to these countries, many of who end up with similar stories.
The high demand for domestic workers from Kenya by countries in the Middle East has spurred the proliferation of recruitment agencies in Nairobi and its outskirts. In one of the recruitment agencies in Nairobi CBD, you will not miss dozens of women lining the halls, waiting for the turn to go to the land of "greener pastures." All of them are hoping to secure a job as a domestic worker, cleaner, cooking, cleaning, and caring for another family thousands of miles from their own home.
Sadly, many of them come back with harrowing tales of torture, sexual, and physical abuse from their employers.
Rose Malombo, a 35-year-old lady hailing from Limuru Kenya, says that she is among the victims who was tortured and suffered immensely in the hands of her employer in Saudi Arabia. The experience made her run away to Qatar, where she worked for a company as a casual laborer until she got transport money to return to Kenya.
It is the negative experiences that she encountered in Saudia, and those of her friends made her look for ways of escaping back to Kenya.
"Kule Saudia, inategemea na boss umepata, kuna Yule ataangukia boss mzuri na kuna Yule atapata boss mbaya. Niliteseka na pia wezangu walikuwa wanateseka ajabu, niliona hivi nikakata kauli ya kutoroka." ("Your life depends on which boss you will get, there are bad and good bosses, I suffered, and I saw people suffering in the hands of their employers. This is what made me run away from my employer in Saudi Arabia to Qatar."
Rose Malombo went to the country in 2016 through a recruitment agency in Nairobi, which organized for her travel and transport. Despite having heard reports of torture and victimization in the Gulf, Rose was lured by her relative who was in Nairobi at that time to enroll for a "very lucrative" house help job through a Nairobi agency. Later, she came to know that the relative had been employed as an agent by the specific recruitment agency where he could earn Sh5000 for every recruit.
Narrating the experience that made her shun her employer in Saudia, Rose says that she went there to try her luck, but things turned against her.
"Nilikuwa napewa kazi mingi na mara nyingine nilikuwa napewa chakula imakaa kwa frige . (I was usually overburdened with work and sometime, I could be given expired food to eat) she says adding that "Ilifika mahali chakula hakuna kwa nyumba sinunuliwi vitu sasa maisha gani hayo ikafikia mshahara sipewi niliacha kama 3month sajalipwa mshahara" (It reached a point where I was not given any food, and even the basic items were withdrawn from me, even the salary was withdrawn for three months).
It is at this point where she decided to run away to the police station, where she narrated her ordeal to them. The boss had already taken her mobile phone, but luckily she had a spare line where she had saved key contacts. At the police station, she borrowed a phone from one of the female officers and called her friend in Qatar, who sent her money, which she used for transport to Qatar.
When in Qatar, she secured work as casual labor for an oil manufacturing company, and when she got enough money to buy an air ticket and travelled back to her homeland. She says that she will never think of going back to Saudia in the name of job hunting under whatever circumstances.
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