When a Kenyan woman got the opportunity to work in Albania, she believed it would change her family's life and hers.
Neither she nor her family thought it would end tragically, with the woman brutally attacked and spending the last three months in hospital in a coma.
On February 14 last year, the Kenyan woman, who comes from a humble background, travelled to Albania and began working as a croupier in a casino, determined to make a better life for herself and her family.
“My daughter feared and hated poverty...When she just finished [school]...she trained for a casino job in Kenya as a dealer, but later got a Job in a hotel in Comoros. When she told me she had missed home, she later quit her job in Comoros and came back home in Kenya. But like any other young Kenyan who want to better themselves, she reached out to the casino in Albania and she got in as a trainee," her mother revealed.
“I saw no need of telling [her] not to go because Albania is in Europe and her elder sister had worked there. And for her, it was a stepping stone to better herself in the casino industry.”
Her family was supportive and she kept in touch with them while in Albania.
Calling or texting her mother often was routine, until one day she did not.
August 13 last year at 4.25am EAT was the last time her mother received a text from her in which she said she was preparing her supper.
“She texted me immediately after her work shift, but when I responded to her text, she never texted me back.
“When I did not receive her call the following day I got worried, I knew something was up because it’s unlike her not to call me,” her mother said.
“I started getting extremely worried on Sunday, August 14, when she never reached out. I didn’t know what had happened so I opted to reach out to her friends to see if they had heard from her, and none had a clue of where my daughter was,” she said.
A day later, the casino’s Human Resources (HR) department reached out to the Kenyan woman’s mother informing her of the whereabouts of her daughter.
“On 15 August I received a text from her HR saying [she] had gotten into an accident and she was in the ICU.”
Nervous, anxious and confused, not knowing what had happened, the mother started calling everyone she knew in Albania to understand what had happened.
“I reached out to the HR but they said they did not know what had happened because the company’s driver had dropped her off at her apartment, and she was perfectly fine,” the mother said.
On September 12, the mother travelled to Albania to see her daughter, but she was in a coma and in bad shape physically – her mother hardly recognised her.
“I found my daughter in the ICU. She was on the ventilator…she was covered in a lot of machines. I did not recognise her. She had contractions; she was all bandaged up,” the distraught mother explains.
“Doctors had given up hope because they had already given her medication and it had been six weeks. The doctors were wondering why she was not waking up.”
A medical report from Spitali Universitar 1 Traumes, where the Kenyan woman is admitted, says that she had suffered several injuries, including fractures, and internal bleeding.
Civil society activists staged protests in Albania, saying the woman was raped and accused the police of not doing enough in their investigations. They demanded justice for the woman, various media reported.
The woman’s mother went to the police, determined to find out what had happened to her daughter.
She was told that her daughter was found unconscious in the building where she lived in. She says she is seeking justice and is not convinced that police are doing enough to uncover what happened.
“Up to now there is no new information that I have and they only told me they are doing investigations and when they need me they will call me. But up to today, since August, they have never reached out,” the mother lamented.
“The first hospital that [she] was rushed to has not released the medical report up to now. I want to see what my daughter was diagnosed with upon arrival in that hospital,” she adds.
According to the mother, a witness who lives at a nearby apartment wrote a report at the police station, saying her daughter was attacked. She adds that earlier, her daughter had also said that she was being stalked by a man only identified as a casino driver.
Her mother, however, adds that she had never complained of mistreatment at her workplace.
“There was no day that she complained about her employers. Although she was not staying in her apartment alone, [her] roommate refuses to write a report with the police, talk to me or just visit my daughter in the hospital which makes me wonder,” the mother says.
“I want justice for my daughter. I want answers to what happened to my daughter.”
Before the incident, the woman had planned to fly back home in September, her mother says.
“She promised to come back home in September…so that we could celebrate her birthday. She was turning 22,”
Susy Lavi, a Kenyan who has been residing in Albania for over 15 years, says she heard from her friend that there was an African woman who needed a blood transfusion.
“When I heard about [her] situation I said I will visit and donate blood. On August 17, I went to the hospital and after a struggle, we managed to see her. [She] did not look good; there were so many tubes on her,” Ms Lavi said.
“I have been there for her until her mother came. We hope justice will prevail because the only person who can answer the questions is still in a coma.”
The family has appealed to well-wishers for help to pay medical bills through Mpesa number: 0721943018.