Kenyan woman forced to wash a corpse in Oman

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Beatrice Ichai during interview with the Standard at Ebambwa estate in Kakamega town. She suffered in Oman in her quest to get money to pay her university studies. PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD

When Beatrice Ichai arrived in Oman about a year ago to work as a housemaid, she believed she had made the right decision.

The 29-year-old had wanted to complete her degree and knew this was the only way out for her. Her agent had promised her a monthly pay of Sh70,000.

However, reality soon dawned on her when instead of being paid Sh70,000, she was offered Sh20,000. This is the salary she earned for three months before things took a turn for the worse. She later worked for seven months without pay.

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“The Arab world is hell on earth for Kenyan girls working as maids. I was treated as a slave, allowed only two hours of sleep on a corridor next to the toilets,” said Ms Ichai.

She returned to Kenya after working for 10 months with the help of the Kenyan Embassy in Oman.

“I had enrolled as a Human Resource Management student at Makerere University in Uganda, but deferred my studies due to lack of fees. I started hawking mangoes and cookies to raise money but it didn’t work,” she said.

Speaking to The Standard at her Kakamega home, Ichai said an agent based in Nairobi recruited her to work in Oman. The agent paid her air ticket and also processed the travelling documents.

She said Kenyans working as maids in Oman work in deplorable conditions and are denied food and other basic needs.

“You are beaten anytime, work up to late at night and only allowed two hours of sleep,” she said.

She recalled a time when she was asked to wash the body of a woman who had died of diabetes.

“Life was difficult but I had to persevere so that I get paid then run away but that did not happen,” she narrated.

When the situation became unbearable, she sought for help from the Kenyan Embassy in Oman. The employer was compelled to pay her air ticket back to Kenya.

“When life becomes hard for some Kenyans, they resort to prostitution. Some are even killed. It is not easy to work as a maid in a foreign country,” she said.

Back home with no money from her foreign sojourn, Ichai has embarked on a Life Skill Programme in primary schools in the county.

“I returned home worse than I left. I do not have money to continue with the programme I had started in primary schools. I am appealing to well-wishers to support the programme that imparts life skills,” she said.

standardmedia.co.ke

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