Kenyan Family in Distress As Woman’s Trip to Saudi Takes Strange Twist
As the quest for working abroad heightens for many skilled and semi-skilled Kenyans, only a handful know the implications of working in countries where labour laws are hardly emphasised.
Some have even ignored media reports of gross brutality toward foreign labourers in some countries and gone ahead to embark on trips abroad, expecting greener pastures only to undergo modern-day slavery.
And for Fatuma Mwatete, her story is taking a strange twist after it emerged her family cannot trace her months after she travelled to Saudi Arabia.
This worries her husband Juma Mwandodo, who fears his family will be torn apart by worries since they lost touch with Fatuma.
Mwadodo is a troubled man and fears the worse could have happened, but still hopes she could be okay.
“The last time I spoke to my wife was on January 31. This is worrying because I don’t know what could have happened to her,” Mwandodo cries out.
Fatuma travelled to Saudi Arabia on November 24, last year, and when she reached Riyadh, she called the husband to inform him she was safe and was waiting to catch the next flight to Medina.
And after two weeks, Fatuma called her husband using her employer’s telephone to inform him she was okay though she was to work as a housemaid, which was not in the agreement letter she signed with the Kenyan agent.
“My wife was a trained nurse before she left for Saudi Arabia and that’s the kind of work her agent had promised she would be offered there. But on reaching there, she was introduced to her employer, who informed her she would be a housemaid,” he says.
Mwandodo says he nonetheless encouraged the wife to take heart and continue with the work.
But after one month, Fatuma said she had developed back pains, claiming her employer was overworking her.
“In early January, she called me saying she was tired and could no longer work because of back pains. She also claimed she was denied food for two days by her employers after refusing to work owing to the pains,” he recalls.
The wife further told Mwandodo her employers threatened to report her to the authorities for allegedly failing to work. He became worried and opted to call the Kenyan agent to bring Fatuma back home.
“But when I called the agent demanding my wife back, she told me that I should stop worrying and that my wife was okay and had been transferred to another employee who offered better terms,” added Mwandodo.
However, after three weeks, his wife called him again asking him to do anything within his reach to ensure her return to Kenya, saying the working conditions were harsh.
“I then decided to confront the agent. I threatened to sue her, but she brushed me off and ignored me altogether. I went to the Central Police Station in Mombasa and reported the incident but I could not get much help,” he says.
He sought the services of a lawyer, but since he did not have details to prove his wife had travelled to Saudi Arabia, he did not get much help.
But the worst of his worries came when the wife stopped calling him. He tried to call all the numbers she had previously used to no avail.
“It is six months now. I haven’t heard from my wife. I don’t know if she is okay. The silence is a mystery to me,” said he.
But the said employment agent Maimuna Hassan of Asali Commercial Agents denied knowing Mwandodo.
“When Fatuma came to my office to look for help, she said she was single and she only wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia to look for greener pastures. I have never met Mwandondo,” claims Hassan.
Hassan says Fatuma was okay and that she was communicating with her mother and that she was not aware of a man claiming to be her husband.
Source: The Standard