Vihiga woman stranded and ill in Saudi Arabia after dream job turns sour

Knight Ajenya in the holding camp in Saudi Arabia, where she is trapped by illness and lack of money

Knight Ajenya in the holding camp in Saudi Arabia, where she is trapped by illness and lack of money to buy a plane ticket back to Kenya.

Photo credit: Courtesy

When Knight Ajenya left her home in Vihiga County in October 2023 for Saudi Arabia, she was in high spirits and full of expectations.

She was hoping to transform her family's fortunes and send her three children to good schools.

The 33-year-old Ajenya learnt about the job opportunity in Saudi Arabia from Mary Musembe, a neighbour who had returned to the village from Nairobi for a holiday in April last year.

Musembe would later introduce Ajenya to an agent in Nairobi, who was identified only as Ruth.

Ajenya and several other young women who shared the same aspirations would later be taken to Limuru by the said agent for a six-month training before heading out to their prospective employers in the Gulf.

Embarked on her journey

Ajenya's father, Nerbert Otiende, recalled how his daughter approached him for his final blessings before she embarked on her journey to the land of greener pastures.

“Having been a hawker on the streets of Kisumu for over 20 years, I saw my daughter’s proposal as a potential game changer. Life was so difficult for all of us, more so, after her marriage failed. It was such a daunting task taking care of the kids with my meagre earnings,” Mr Otiende explained.

Ajenya could call her father nearly every day during her first few weeks in Saudi Arabia and update him about the goings on.

“She would tell me about her life, how warm she was received by her employer's family and how friendly the family was,” Mr Otiende recalled.

However, after two months Ajenya’s dreams of making it hit headwinds. Suddenly, the frequent phone calls to her father disappeared. Mr Otiende was worried. He would later learn that his daughter had quit her job and went to live in a holding camp for unclear reasons.

"I tried to seek her explanation for what transpired in vain. Our communication had deteriorated so much since she no longer had a phone and was relying on well-wishers to talk to us," narrated Mr Otiende.

Ajenya would later stay in the camp for a few days while job hunting. It was during that period that she fell seriously ill, attracting the attention of a fellow Kenyan woman who was also putting up at the camp.

According to her father, her health condition worsened since she could not get immediate medical attention due to insufficient funds.

Nearby hospital

“Her friend took her to a nearby hospital where she was only given some paracetamol,” Mr Otiende said.

He says his daughter only survives on fluids because the infection in her throat cannot allow her to eat solid foods.

"Up to this moment we still don't know what she is ailing from since no medical examination has been conducted to determine the exact illness," said Mr Otiende.

The 58-year-old man said that he had tried several times to reach out to the agent responsible for his daughter’s placement, but she declined to help get his daughter back home.

“Whenever I call her all she says is that she cannot assist me since she is yet to benefit from my daughter’s job in the Gulf,” he recounted.

Ajenya is now under the care of a Kenyan friend who identified herself to Mr Otiende as Kagai.

“It is through this Kagai that we are able to receive updates about my child. She has been the one taking her to the hospital whenever her condition worsens. As a family we can’t even afford to raise money for her air ticket back home," he said.