Ms Hollines Wawuda

Ms Hollines Wawuda who died at a police cell in Saudi Arabia. Her body is still stuck at a morgue in the country. 

| Pool

Family pleads for help to bring dead daughter from Saudia

When Holiness Wawuda obtained a visa to travel to Saudi Arabia for work in 2014, her family was confident that the opportunity would make their life better and open doors to a brighter future.

Ms Wawuda, a domestic worker, died in October in the kingdom, dashing her family's hopes of a better life.

More devastating is that the family cannot afford to ship her body back to Kenya so as to accord her a proper burial. The body is still stuck at a morgue in Riyadh.

Ms Wawuda's family, from Shate village in Wundanyi sub-county, Taita Taveta County, has called on the government to help bring their daughter home.

The family said the 52-year-old died under unclear circumstances while in police custody in Riyadh.

Her cousin Leonard Maghanga said they were told the mother of three fell ill while Saudi officials were processing her deportation because her work permit and identification documents had expired.

Mr Maghanga said her friend informed the family on October 18 that Ms Wawuda was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in Riyadh on October 10 after she collapsed at the police cells.

Blood pressure

After her first contract ended it is said that she did not renew her work permit and resorted to door-to-door services.

"The friend told us that she was taken to the hospital by police. She said our daughter had blood pressure issues but we don't have any official information yet to know what exactly killed her," he said.

The family has now appealed to the Kenyan Embassy, the Ministry of Labour and well-wishers to help them bring her body home.

Ms Sarah Katini,

Ms Sarah Katini, mother of  Hollines Wawuda speaks to journalists at her home in Shate Village, Wundanyi sub-county, Taita Taveta County on January 17, 2022.  

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika | Nation Media Group

Mr Maghanga said they had appealed for help from Kenyan officials here and in Saudi Arabia, to no avail.

"We have written to the embassy to ask for help but we have not received any response. We also tried to seek help from our local politicians but no one has heard our cries," he said.

He said the family had raised only Sh200,000 of the Sh800,000 required to ship the body to Kenya and cover burial expenses.

"We were told the cost of air-freighting is Sh400,000 and the balance will cater for transportation from the airport to here and her burial ceremony. Unfortunately, we are unable to raise the money," he said.

Her mother Sarah Katini pleaded with the government and well-wishers to help.

“I am not able to foot the mortuary bills incurred in Saudi Arabia and the cost of bringing the body because I don't have any income," she said.

Leonard Maghanga

Mr Leonard Maghanga speaks to journalists at Shate village in Wundanyi, Taita Taveta County on January 17, 2022. The family is seeking help to raise Sh800,000 to bring back their kin for burial. 

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika | Nation Media Group.

She said her daughter used to call and send money back home often and they maintained regular contact.

Following the news of her death, the 77-year-old grandmother is now devastated and ailing.

The family said Ms Wawuda was the only financial supporter for her children and her ageing mother.

The three children are all in school.

“I don't have money to pay my grandchildren’s school fees. I even don't have a proper home and the farm does not yield enough to feed us," Ms Katini said.

Although the family wants the government to help unravel the mystery of Ms Wawuda’s death, their priority is to get help to bring her body back home.

"We want to see the body of my niece and that will give us closure," said her uncle David Mnyika.

Local leaders including MCAs have also urged well-wishers to help the family raise the money they need to bring home and bury their daughter.

Wundanyi MCA Steven Mcharo and his Wusi/Kishamba counterpart Juma Mwamba, who both visited the family on Monday, said they will team up with other leaders to raise the required funds.

"African culture demands that one must be buried at their home. It is important to help this family bury their daughter according to the wishes of her mother," Mr Mcharo said.

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