Ann * is a single mother of two beautiful teen girls -Milka and Nelly*. Ann is a graduate in banking, she was working as a clear in one of the best banks in Kenya. In 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a massive lay off of workers, unfortunately this axe fell on Ann as well. She lost her job. In order to survive, Ann engaged herself in manual jobs to fend for her kids. However, this was hardly enough to meet her needs. Pressed with the tough economic situation, she met a friend who told her about opportunities abroad.
At first, Ann was skeptical because of the stories she had heard of the harassment and mistreatment of Kenyan ladies who got greener pastures in the gulf region. She later agreed to the offer of going to work in Lebanon. Since Lebanon is a mix of both Christians and Muslims, she was convinced and hopeful that things would be better.
In October 20, 2021, Ann started the process and she was recruited with the help of a recruiting agency and she went for domestic work training which took three months as the agent was processing her documentation.
Eventually, Ann found herself in Saudi Arabia travelling through Dubai on February 27, 2022 and not in Lebanon as she had initially thought. However, it was too late to go back. On getting to the airport, Ann was transported to the agency office, where her receiver picked her up and transported her to the would-be employer.
On reaching the house, Ann was welcomed by the boss's daughter. The daughter informed her that her mother, who was to be her boss, had been admitted to hospital even though she later returned home after 3 weeks upon discharge.
During the first month, Ann was treated well. She was allowed to keep her documents and phone. After the first month, all hell broke loose. Ann was denied food and was overworked. She was forced to work for more than twelve hours and she could only sleep when her boss was asleep. Ann opted to call her agency to ask for a transfer to a different employer. After a week, the agency spoke with her employer who promised to change her ways but this only last for 3 months.
After six months, the employer confiscated her phone and all her personal documents. At this point, the employer denied Ann food. ‘I could go for 72 hours without food, ’Ann says. The employer threatened to kill her so many times and also physically assaulted her, that left many visible scars on Ann’s body.
At one point, Ann was beaten until she collapsed. When she woke up, there was nobody in the house and the gate was wide open, so she escaped. Unfortunately, even before she could go far, police vehicles surrounded her and she was forcefully taken back to the same house. At this point, the employer burned her with a metal box. She displays the burning scar on her hand with great regret; “I wish I had listened to a number of people who had advised me against going to the Gulf countries”.
On one eventful day and due to exhaustion, starvation and long working hours, Ann collapsed while she was working. The employer fearing for the worst, took her to hospital and abandoned her there. When she got better and through the help of the hospital staff, Ann reached out to the police who contacted her agency. The police promised to ensure that Ann would get paid for the one year she had worked without pay. This however, never happened.
The law enforcers worked together with her agency and in August, Ann was deported to Kenya with nothing except the clothes she had on herself. In as much as she didn’t bring anything back home Ann says she is happy and glad that she is back home.
*Ann is not her real name