'I survived on tea, salty toilet water': Taita woman rescued from Saudi Arabia recalls

Miriam Samba after arriving back in Kenya from Saudi Arabia where she had been had been allegedly detained against her will by her agent.

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika I Nation

Miriam Samba, a Kenyan woman who had been held against her will in Saudi Arabia, has arrived in Kenya after Nation.Africa highlighted her plight last week.

Ms Samba, 26, arrived in Nairobi on Sunday. She had been allegedly detained against her will by her agent in Riyadh after being mistreated by her employer.

She was received by her neighbour and Good Samaritans at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as her grandmother Nancy Wawuda and children waited for her in their village in Mwatunge, Taita Taveta County.

In an interview, she narrated that her woes began at her first employer's home, where she worked for two months.

She was then taken back to her agent's offices in June and deployed to a different home.

"In the second home, I worked for two months, day and night with no rest. Also, I could not sleep and I was not being given food. I survived on tea. Because of that, I fell sick and was returned to the office again," she said.

But things worsened at the office. She said she and other women did not get enough food and water.

"Sometimes we drank water from the toilet. The water was salty and not fit for consumption," she recalled.

She said her travel documents and phone were confiscated to prevent her from communicating with her family to seek help.

Her neighbour, Mr Japhet Righa, commended some leaders and residents of Taita Taveta and the Rift Valley for rallying around Ms Samba and ensuring she arrived home safely.

Ms Samba had sent messages from Riyadh, saying she was being mistreated, prompting efforts to rescue her.

"Were it not for the joint efforts from our leaders and well-wishers, our sister could not have come home. We thank everyone who contributed their money and efforts to bring her home," Mr Righa said.

He also urged well-wishers to help Ms Samba start an income-generating activity so that she can fend for her ageing grandmother and her three children.

Ms Samba left Kenya for Saudi Arabia in April this year to work, with hopes of improving her life and that of her children.

She left the children in the care of her grandmother, who hoped that their lives would change after Ms Samba went to work in the Middle East.

Ms Samba’s case and others prompted Taita Taveta Women for Change vice-chairperson Anna Kina to urge the government to ban Kenyans from working in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Kina said the agent who recruited Ms Samba did not cooperate with the group when they tried to follow up on the case.

"The government should investigate the agents who have been exporting labour to Saudi Arabia. Some of them don't follow the laid-down procedures and this is why our girls are suffering," she said.

She added that the government should create jobs for Kenyans so that they don’t have to seek work overseas.

Ms Joyce Mwambingu, a women leader, urged the government to monitor the welfare of migrant workers in the Gulf nation.

"It's only by luck that Samba has managed to be rescued alive because others are being brought back home in coffins after a horrible ordeal in Saudi Arabia. The government should come up with a solution to this," she said.


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.