Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jobs lured us to Saudi, say women

By MATHIAS RINGA

The 70 Mombasa women arrested at a Nairobi lodge last week on their way to Saudi Arabia without travel documents said poverty had driven them to try and seek opportunities in the Arab country.

Mrs Mwanaisha Iddi, 26, a mother of four, said she wanted to go to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid.

She said most of the women had no birth certificates or passports, but that their agent had promised to get the documents.

Mrs Iddi, who went to school up to Standard Eight, said life had become unbearable.

“My husband can no longer afford to sustain us. That is why I decided to look for a job in Saudi Arabia as there are no jobs in Kenya. I cannot sit and watch my children suffer when there are job opportunities elsewhere,” she said.

“In Saudi Arabia I was to work as a house help and earn an average of Sh18,000 per month. With such an income, I can put food on the table, pay for medical care and school fees.”

She said that they would have travelled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Mrs Iddi and her colleagues said they were determined to go to Saudi Arabia.

“We have been told by our agent that our passports are ready and we are appealing to the Government to let us go. We are not going there for a good time,” Mrs Iddi said.

Mrs Nasra Gulu, 25, a mother of one, said she wanted to go to Saudi Arabia to work as a house help.

“I dropped out of school in Standard Seven. Because of lack of employment, my life is unbearable. I have to go to Saudi Arabia,” she said.

Mrs Gulu said the agent says their passports are ready, the Government should let them go and work in Saudi Arabia.

“Some people claim that we will be forced into prostitution but that is not true. Saudi Arabia is a strict Muslim country and would not allow such vices,” she said.

The agent, she added, did not demand payment, but instead would provide them with food and air tickets.

Ms Zaina Mohammed, 26, who worked at a local hair salon said she wanted to work in Saudi Arabia and save enough to start her own business.

“At the salon where I worked in Mombasa, I was earning peanuts and when I learnt that there were job opportunities in Saudi Arabia I did not hesitate.

“I know some people who were leading miserable lives but whose fortunes have changed after securing employment there,” she said.