Kenyans travel to Saudi Arabia and other parts of the globe for different reasons – a common denominator is to improve their livelihoods.
In Antony Kiarie’s wife’s case, she travelled to the Gulf to help raise her three children and payoff a Ksh 200,000 debt the family had accrued during the pandemic but is now stranded abroad.
Speaking to Spice FM on Wednesday, September 7, Kiarie emotionally narrated how his wife took up manual jobs during the onset of the pandemic to make ends meet.
She was job hunting when she bumped into an agent on the streets of Nairobi who promised her a lucrative job in Saudi Arabia.
Antony Kiarie during an interview with Spice Fm on Wednesday, September 7, 2022
File “She told me about an agent in Nairobi who is promising a lucrative job in Saudi Arabia. I first opposed the idea due to the many horror stories of Kenyans suffering in the gulf. I however agreed since we had a loan of Ksh200K,” Kiarie said.
Kiarie, a security guard, was uncertain about the safety of his wife and volunteered to go in her place. However, Kiarie, 52, was disqualified for his age. According to the agent, the age limit was 42 years.
“In the end, I agreed. We had taken a loan to educate our 3 children, our firstborn is in form 4,” Kiarie explained.
Still skeptical, Kiarie visited the agent’s office in Nairobi a certificate hang on her wall swayed him and gave his wife the green light to go.
Elated, the family provided all the relevant documents to facilitate her travel. Additionally, Ksh5,000 was paid to pay for her accommodation before the flight.
The agent explained that the accommodation area was used to train the employees on how to conduct themselves in the new work environment.
Little did Kiarie’s wife know the horror that awaited her away from home that would eventually render her captive.
After she landed in Jeddah in March, she was introduced to her employer who had paid for her flight. In her first home, she was tasked with taking care of 3 autistic children, an overwhelming job.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
File Following several complaints, she was moved to a different house that also had 2 Ethiopian house helps. Here, she was responsible for taking care of an elderly woman.
“She noticed that the two ladies were hostile and unwilling to work with her. Often, she complained that the two spoke in Arabic plotting to mistreat her,” Kiarie recounted.
Kiarie’s wife did not take the hostility lightly and she reported the two to the employer and one of them lost her job. This only made things worse for her.
Her employer reportedly slashed her salary from Ksh32,014 to Ksh28,813 and proudly told her she was helpless, not even her government could intervene.
“When you sign a contract with the local agent, it is enticing but tables turn after you arrive in Saudi Arabia,” Kiarie explained.
Communication between the two lovebirds became a problem and Kiarie did not speak to his wife since July 10.
Worried, Kiarie reached out to the agent in Nairobi who avoided his calls and messages. Kiarie cornered her and showed up at her office unannounced.
She sent him on a wild goose chase by giving her the number of an agent in Qatar who claimed was in no position to help him.
Fortunately, Kiarie got the contact with another agent who disclosed that his wife had been molested, tortured, and could no longer speak on her own.
“He told me he had taken her out of the home and placed her in an accommodation hostel in Riyadh. He was very corporative, he stated the accommodation is funded by the Saudi government,” Kiarie added.
According to the agent, the hostel is home to employees who have been mistreated and others awaiting deportation.
Finally, Kiarie was able to talk to his wife on Monday, September 5, who could barely recognise him over a video call.
“She cannot even recognize my face or voice nor was she looking at the camera. I told the agent that something was wrong with my wife,” Kiarie lamented.
Allegedly, Kiarie noted that during a video call with the agent, he heard his wife scream in the background alongside other voices held behind a closed door.
Notably the agent however allegedly lied to Kiarie that his wife refused to board a plane home.
Kiarie’s efforts to bring his wife back have borne no fruits as the National Employment Authority informed him that it will take about 2 weeks to address his complaint.
From the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Diaspora Consulate and the National Employment Authority in Kasarani, Kiarie has gone over and under to rescue his wife.
“The foreign officials told me I needed to push with the National Employment Authority in Kasarani to facilitate her travel,” a heartbroken Kiarie stated.
In its defense, the National Employment Authority stated it is the responsibility of the agent to bring Kiarie’s wife back. Kiarie faulted the government agency for not thoroughly vetting the agents.
“The government has to apply uniformed pressure to ensure Kenyans traveling abroad are taken care of in the foreign countries,” Kiarie addressed the government.
Unfortunately, his hands are tied and all he has is hope that his wife will return home safely after he was denied access to her medical reports.
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