Kakamega family in shock over death of daughter in Saudi Arabia

Benson Amakobe

Benson Amakobe displays the photo of his 32-year-old daughter who died in Saudi Arabia where she was a domestic worker. 

Photo credit: Benson Amadala | Nation Media Group

A family in Kakamega County is struggling to come to terms with the death of their daughter, who had travelled to Saudi Arabia for a job as a domestic worker.

Lydia Ayila Amakobe, 32, from Shikangania village in Kakamega Central sub-county, flew to Saudi Arabia in August last year without the knowledge of her parents but told them later that she had taken a job in the kingdom.

Her father Benson Amakobe, a retired Kenya Postal Corporation employee, said he received a phone call from a woman who knew his daughter, informing him that she had been found dead in her room.

He said Ms Ayila, his third-born child, had not mentioned to him or her mother her plans to travel to the Middle East for a job.

The family says they tried in vain to contact an agent reported to have arranged for Lydia to travel to the Middle East.

They have been trying to reach the agent by mobile phone for the last two days but he was unavailable.

The family is in the dark about the cause of the death and want the government to help investigate the matter.

“As I speak to you, I don’t have full information about what befell my daughter. All I know is that she is no more. We have been informed that we need to raise Sh1.2 million as a family to clear some bill she incurred,” said Mr Amakobe.

The family says Lydia spoke to her sickly mother last week on a video call and sounded fine.

“But she was shocked to learn that her mother, who is receiving treatment for diabetics, had developed a wound in her leg,” he said.

“I think one of my daughters sent her the video and she was so distraught about it. But she sounded fine.”

He said his daughter had sent some money back home to support the family and pay school fees for her four-year-old son.

The family has appealed to the government to help transport the body home for burial.

“We are struggling to raise some money but as a family we have been jolted by Lydia’s death. She was somebody who would go out to look for a job to support us. What I didn’t know was that she would travel out of the country for a job in Saudi Arabia,” said Mr Amakobe.

News of the death of Lydia has jolted her mother, who is diabetic.

“We are so worried about her condition. She was rushed to hospital this morning to be attended to by the doctors because of the wound that has been troubling her for some time now,” said Mr Amakobe.

This is the latest in a string of deaths of Kenyan women working in the Middle East.

The women are drawn by promises of good salaries but end up being mistreated and tortured by their employers and do not receive help from the authorities.

Their employers usually confiscate their passports and refuse to pay them after cutting off communications with relatives back home.

Mr Amakobe said his daughter had found a new employer after she complained that her former employer had mistreated her.