Middle East jobs trainees left stranded in spat with college

A section of disgruntled Middle East job seekers from Competitive Manpower Training Institute at the Kitengela Police Station

A section of disgruntled Middle East job seekers from Competitive Manpower Training Institute at the Kitengela Police Station on May 22, 2023.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho  | Nation Media Group

They came to the capital city, dewey-eyed village maidens full of dreams of a better life after securing well-paying jobs as domestic workers in the Middle East.

But their journeys would end in a dusty backwater on the Kitengela-Ongata Rongai highway in the gathering dark with neither food nor water and bewildered about where they would spend the night.

Officers at Kitengela Police Station came to their rescue, however, and the 177 women, aged between 21 and 35, settled in quickly, grateful for a place to lay their heads but bitter at the turn of events.

A local college, Competitive Manpower Training Institute, had left them in the lurch after promising to train them in various courses and get them jobs as domestic workers.

For Vivian Musau, 31, it was a bitter pill to swallow after leaving her Kwale County village for Nairobi in early April.

The mother of three left with a promise to her relatives that their lives would improve once she landed the job. 

But this was not to be.

“We had decided to leave the institution after a slew of false promises,” she told Nation

“We were to be trained for two weeks and sit for a test in the third week in readiness to travel to the Middle East. We have been staying there for one and half months under deplorable conditions,” she added.

She said they were bundled into two buses hired by the college to ferry them home only to be abandoned in the wilderness. They were forced to trek for two kilometres, carrying heavy bags full of their personal effects. They camped at the Kitengela Police Station all night long, braving the biting cold.

Those who were lucky to receive bus fare from relatives and friends boarded matatus to Nairobi. Others were seen trying to make calls for help in vain.

The women had been sourced by various agents from different parts of the country.

However, most of them were from Nyanza and North Eastern regions. One has to produce her birth certificate and national identity card for admission. The IDs are being withheld by the college, according to the trainees. 

Record statements

The officer commanding Kitengela Police Station, Mr David Ole Sani, advised the women to record statements at Tuala Police Station, under whose jurisdiction the college falls. He tried without success to summon the institute's director.

Ms Naomi Kimunto,29,a mother of twins from Nyamarambe village in Kisiii County, told Nation she had left her children under the care of her husband back at home. She had been recruited by an agent in readiness to travel to Saudi Arabia.

“At least we have been trained on labour relations and rights, life skills, entrepreneurship, housekeeping, laundry, childcare and food production but we are not sure will travel after all,” she said, adding that they hadn’t received their stipends for the one-and-half months that they had been in training as was promised.

Ms Josphine Nyagicha,21, also from Kisii County, told Nation she had been looking forward to finding employment in the Middle East in order to help her ageing parents and her child.

“I believe there are many good opportunities in the Middle East. I have seen women from our village going there to work and later pulling their families out of poverty.”

Reached for comment, Competitive Manpower Training Institute Principal Getrid Mulama told Nation the trainees had become unruly after the final assessment was delayed.

She said the management had opted to release them before sitting the exams but, on their way home, she received a phone call from the National Industrial Training Authority (Nita) confirming that they would be able to sit for the tests but most of the trainees refused to go back.

“We have a backlog of trainees caused by exam delays. The management had a rough time explaining to them. Most of them have refused to stay in school for exams slated for today [yesterday],” she said.

Last year, the government issued a policy directive calling for mandatory training and certification of Kenyans seeking jobs in the Middle East as domestic workers. The training, the directive said, would take place in competent and accredited colleges approved by Nita.

At least 199 private and public institutions have been accredited by Nita to train Kenyan workers destined for employment in Middle East countries. The training is offered free of charge.