29-year-old Alice Khavera (not her real name) is a mother of three who has worked in Saudi Arabia for four years. Alice left Kenya on July 3rd 2009 after being given a four-year contract for a “better paying job” in the Middle East country.
Alice recounts how she was tricked into “slavery” and abuse. “From the time we left Kenya, everything seemed okay. It was also the first time I was boarding a plane, so of course I was happy and nervous at the same time.
“After 4 hours, I finally arrived at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh where the agency representatives were to pick me up and take me to my new employer. At the waiting bay, three innocent looking gentlemen approached me and told me they work for the agency.
“On my way to my new home, the two gentlemen I was sitting with at the back covered my head with a black cloth and told me to remain silent. I knew my life was in danger but after a few minutes drive the cloth was removed from my head, and I was introduced to my new employer.
“Sleeping at 12am and waking up before everyone else was my daily routine. After three weeks, my phone was taken away, and I could not even call home to find out how my kids were doing.
“It became worse when the wife started beating me up as their kids insulted me. I really wanted to go back to Kenya, but I hadn’t made enough money to pay for my flight back, and the agency had also taken my passport. I had no choice but to bear with it.
“To cut a very long story short, with the help of another Kenyan house-girl who I befriended we plotted to run away. We managed to borrow a phone and call home. My family were shocked to hear what I had gone through and quickly arranged for my safe return to Kenya; a country I appreciate now so much more than ever.”
“Even if promised a million shillings a month I would never go back to the Middle East.”
Due to embarassement Alice refused to appear on camera.
Judging by other stories that have appeared in the Kenyan media in recent years, Alice’s case is not unique.
We spoke to a senior officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade who said that this is happening due to either lack of information or sometimes just ignorance. She also said that Kenyans need to be extra careful with recruiting agencies.
Listen to what she had to say below;