Armed with hope, a winning resolve and the promise of getting an untaxed salary for a two-year contract, Ms Diana Chepkemoi, boarded a plane to Saudi Arabia to seek out a better fortune for herself.
All she wanted was to complete her Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Management degree and get a job.
But that was not to be.
Her dreams were crushed when the land of opportunities turned into her worst nightmare.
Ms Chepkemoi left Kenya in July 2021 after she secured a job in one of the Royal families in Saudi Arabia where she was to work as a house manager.
This is after she had stayed out of school for over four years and that was the only option available to her.
“I had just completed my first year and all I wanted was to ensure that the journey I had started on matters of education was completed. However, I lacked school fees and the only option that remained was to secure a job and ensure that I clear complete my studies,” she told Nairobi News.
At the time, the financial situation at home was dire.
Her mother, Ms Clara Chepkemoi, was ailing and her siblings were also in need of school fees.
“The struggle was real and every moment I could get data and open my WhatsApp account, I could see how my classmates were discussing matters classwork yet I was just at home keeping my ailing mother company.”
She told this reporter that on several occasions she could find herself shedding tears not because she was jealous that her classmates in school were doing better but because she wished she could be in class pursuing her career of choice.
But in reality, her days were wasting away, with no hope of her doing anything towards funding her educational ambitions.
Ms Chepkemoi after trying in vain to secure a job in Kenya, Ms Chepkemoi then decided that she would try her luck at securing a job abroad.
“That was the genesis of my journey to Saudi Arabia, I was linked up with Ms Susan Makhungu through her company and she organized the job for me,” she said.
She said that when she arrived in Saudi Arabia she realised that things were not a walk in the park from the first day when she made a mistake and she was welcomed with the wrath of her boss.
“He told me that I had no choice but to do what was right because there was nowhere I could go because he had bought me until my contract ended. He said that if I tried anything cheeky he would go ahead and make sure that I am jailed,” she said.
When details of what she was going through became public, Ms Chepkemoi said that she was threatened and even at some point her employer said he would harm her but luckily this never happened.
According to her, when she got a chance to walk out of her employer’s homestead and was taken to the hospital, she even forgot her phone behind, and it is for that reason most people could not get her on the phone.
And that marked the end of her dream to be a graduate.
When Ms Chepkemoi boarded a plane from Riyadh Airport in Saudi Arabia for Kenya, she was in pain; physically, mentally and emotionally.
This is a stark contrast to her exuberant expectations of earning honest pay in the safe environment she was promised.
Nairobi News, reached out to Ms Makhungu who organized the job for her and she said that she really tried to reach out to the family that had taken her but things were proving futile.
She said that she even reached out to the deployment company that handed over Ms Chepkemoi to her employer and the response was not that good but she was happy that finally, she had jetted back to the country.
“We were in constant communication with her and I always gave her feedback on what I had been told by her employer and also the company that facilitated her travel to Saudi Arabia. It became hard because she was working for a royal family,” Ms Makhungu said.
Asked to confirm whether indeed she was communicating with Ms Makhungu, Ms Chepkemoi said that they used to talk but she had already informed her that her hands were tied because she had secured a job with a royal family in the Arab country.
Contract documents in our possession that were used during her travel reveal that she was employed by Mohammed Fahad Saad Aljibali.
The Saudi Arabia-based recruiting company that organized the job for her is known as Ghaziaan Recruitment office.
Efforts to reach out to the employer did not bear any fruit as they neither answered our calls nor responded to our messages.
According to her academic records at Meru University, Ms Chepkemoi joined the institution on August 31, 2017, to study Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Management at the School of Agriculture and Food Science.
However, she studied for the first semester of the academic year and submitted a letter of deferral due to financial problems on August 28, 2018.
Ms Chepkemoi then even applied for a course transfer on May 15, 2019, to study for a Bachelor of Education Arts which was accepted by the management but she never reported back.
Her mother, Ms Clara Chepkemoi said that she was really happy that her daughter had jetted back to the country and she would for the first time be together with her.
“I am really happy and would like to thank everyone who contributed in one way or the other to have my daughter come back to Kenya,” she said.