NAIROBI, Kenya, April 8 – She is still trying to manage her blood pressure since last year when her health and happiness took a nose dive.
Alice’s sickly body can no longer handle too much work like was the case some three years ago as a house help in Dubai.
Three years of hard work, resilience and determination, with one goal of securing her three children’s future, in the distant land where temperatures are extreme.
Her traveling documents were confiscated on the day she arrived in Dubai in late 2015 and worse, she was sending all her cash back home, naively so.
But it’s upon arrival back in Kenya in 2018 that her life changed – she found her two sons had since run away from their sister’s home to the streets.
Only her third born, a daughter, persevered.
“Imagine they were eating from dustbins,” a teary Alice told Capital FM News.
Their lives in the aunt’s home, they later told their mother, was hell on earth.
There was more food in the streets than at home, they said.
“I would have not believed them if at least I found my savings intact,” Alice said. The deal was for Alice to send money to support her family, but she also included what would have been her savings package.
All her savings were spent to improve her sister’s life, who now owns a parcel of land in Juja and has even started buying construction materials to build a house.
“She told me that my children’s appetite finished the money I used to send her,” she still recalls, words that left her shattered.
Malnourished children, scavenging in the streets, having dropped from school was what she found.
Alice has not recovered yet from the shock that hit her then.
“I sent every coin to my sister,” with a tone full of bitterness, she asserted.
Her two sons now in their teens, she said, “had started using bhang and chewing miraa. I was losing them to the world.”
Alice is now working as a house help in Nairobi hoping to piece together her future and that of her children.
While she had planned to return to the Middle East – regardless of the wanting working environment – her failing health won’t allow.
There is also the question of the children; where will they go?
The Middle East continues to remain a beacon of hope to thousands of Kenyans looking for a greener pasture, as the country struggles with a high rate of unemployment.
For many, and as established in this series, they are running away from a grim future that has been characterized by nepotism, corruption and tribalism.
Their only choice, they admitted is to risk everything while working in the Middle East countries or die at home poor.
But there is an emerging trend, a worrying one, like Alice’s who after hard years of work find all their har earned cash squandered back home.
– Who is to blame? –
According to the Kenya National Bureaus of Statistics (KNBS), seven million Kenyans are not employed- some 1.4 million are desperately looking for a job, while the rest have since thrown in the towel.
Kenyans living below Sh200 a day is currently at 36.1 per cent according to KNBS.
NB: Alice is not her real name since she requested anonymity to protect her family.
(Maids Abroad is a series of tales by Kenyans who return home to nothing after years of working in tough conditions in the Middle East)