NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – The dead tell no tales, goes the adage.
But not anymore for Chelsea, a youthful mother of one, who committed suicide early in 2016 after she found all her hard-earned savings squandered by her mother and siblings.
Before she took the rope and looked for a secluded place to commit the unfortunate act, Chelsea confided in a friend and a colleague whom she had left in Lebanon.
“I tried to be biblical about her situation, but she declined to hear a word. She couldn’t take it anymore,” her friend Cecilia Wangechi, who has since returned to Kenya told Capital FM News.
Miles apart, she couldn’t stop Chelsea from claiming her own life at her maternal home in Ndaragwa, Nyandarua County.
Just like any other Kenyan moving to hardship prone Middle East countries in search for a greener pasture, Chelsea had hoped to change her fortunes and those of her son.
Being a single mother, she felt it was her sole responsibility to secure his future.
Every end of the month, Chelsea would send her entire salary back home, according to friend.
“She didn’t have any reason to worry. After all, it is her mother who was receiving the cash,” Wangechi said.
During the 12 months she worked as a house help, Chelsea sent Sh35,000 to her mother for 12 months.
“The condition was they only spend Sh10,000 and save the rest,” her friend narrated.
This meant Chelsea expected at least Sh300,000 when she came back, an amount that meant everything to her.
As she toiled away, back home it was all fanfare as her family spent every single cent – simply, they lived large by the village standards.
It is Chelsea’s four-year-old son then (in 2016) who led to her abruptly return home after one year in Lebanon since he was unwell.
One month after her return, it was all chaos, she would confide to her friend.
But after four weeks of seeking for answers, she called it quits and decided to leave her son – this time forever.
“I cry every time I remember this,” an emotional Wangechi said during an interview with Capital FM News at her new working place in Nairobi.
“Do you think I would have done anything to stop her from taking her own life?” she poses, to no answer.
-Chelsea’s death opened my eyes-
Wangechi who was equally gullible was sending all her cash to her parents, who were also taking care of her daughter.
But things changed after she learned of her friend’s miseries.
“I started saving some cash… I didn’t want to come back home and find nothing,” she said.
And though she vowed not to return to the Middle East, her story is different.
“Imagine being overworked, eating leftovers and all manner of harassment, only to come home and discover that all that was in vain?” she asked rhetorically in a tone full of rage.
The number of her friends who have fallen into similar fate is huge, going with the names she dropped.
For example, she recalls her friend Grace who found her entire savings equally squandered.
Grace fled her home to date.
“We were in communication until last year. Her phone no longer goes through. I really don’t know what happened to her,” Wangechi said.
Ten others friends have returned to the Middle East after coming back home to nothing.
But they’re now more wary of their gluttonous relatives than a torturous working environment in the hands of a heartless lot.
It’s common case for hundreds of youthful Kenyans who after working for years in a demeaning environment, have been robbed of their savings by those trusted most, as exposed in this series.
Many, as established by Capital FM News, have resigned to fate while others have lost focus in life and decided to engage in drug abuse in a desperate attempt to numb their pain.
An exploitive cycle for most of the jobs offered in the Middle East – from how one is contracted to being robbed, mostly by relatives.
But the Middle East remains a source of hope for thousands of Kenyans, whose desperate search for a job in a country ridden with corruption, nepotism, and tribalism, bore no fruit.
NB: Chelsea is not her real name in a bid 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)