• More than 40 others are still stranded in Dubai after the agent who sent them there with a promise of better job offers abandoned them and went mute.
• A local agent, a woman from Malindi only identified as Ummi, in collusion with her counterpart in Dubai, took Sh200,000 from each of the over 50 Kenyans desperate for jobs.
Sixteen Kenyans managed to come back to Kenya after four months of hell in a place they hoped they would get heaven.
They told heart-breaking tales of desperation, hunger, life on the streets and the suffering they had to endure in the hope of a better life where they thought the grass was greener.
More than 40 others are still stranded in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, after the agent who sent them there with a promise of better job offers abandoned them and went mute.
They have nowhere to sleep, nowhere to go and nothing to eat.
It is only the generosity of fellow Kenyans living in Dubai that keeps them going.
The local agent, a woman from Malindi only identified as Ummi, in collusion with her counterpart in Dubai, took Sh200,000 from each of the over 50 Kenyans desperate for jobs.
“The amount was supposedly for visa fees, air tickets and the agent’s commission,” said Muslims for Human Rights rapid response officer Francis Auma.
Auma says the scam involves dubious job recruitment agents who have established international networks through which they rake in millions of shillings from desperate Kenyans.
“Local brokers traverse villages countrywide in Kenya to lure, especially, girls into taking jobs abroad,” said Auma.
Muhuri has established that most of the victims are Muslim women aged between 22 and 35 years.
“The girls are usually promised lucrative jobs as saleswomen, housekeepers, hotel attendants, drivers, waitresses and chefs,” said Auma.
Some, fortunately, did not manage to travel because their visas expired before they could travel.
Others saw their flights inexplicably cancelled hours to their flight.
Amani Hamisi, 23, and his brother Juma Hamisi, 24, are perhaps the bitterest of the lot, having sacrificed their jobs in Qatar for the lure of a better offer in Dubai.
The brothers worked as security officers in a firm in Qatar and were paid 1,350 Qatari Riyal, an equivalent of Sh37,300 per month.
They were told in Dubai, they would be paid 3,000 dirhams, an equivalent of Sh82,200 per month.
“I had stayed in Qatar for two years. I told them I was coming home for vacation but I knew I was going to Dubai where I would be paid more than double what I earned in Qatar,” Amani said.
The two brothers left Kenya for Dubai on September 20, in the company of many others who thought they had secured jobs in the Middle East.
Upon arrival, they were be picked by the Dubai agent, who asked for Sh50,000 cash before he could receive anyone.
The amount, they were told, was to facilitate their training.
They were then taken to a cramped house where, they said, they found more Kenyans, including men and women.
“It was uncomfortable and shameful. We used to change clothes in front of each other,” Amani said.
Each morning, they would go for training in different fields and the beach just to keep their hopes alive as they waited ‘to report to work’.
Rahma Sese, Amani and Juma’s mother, said apart from the two, she had also organised a job for her other two children and a niece, who she took care of.
“I had to take a loan from Kenya Women Finance Trust so I could pay for the five children the requisite fees. I paid more than Sh1 million,” Sese said.
Her two daughters and niece did not manage to travel, despite paying all the fees asked of her.
“They kept on saying there is a problem they are sorting and that I should not worry, they will travel,” Sese said.
Iddi Ndegwa, who also did not travel despite paying Sh200,000, said he was supposed to fly out to Dubai on December 13.
“Two days before the travel date, I checked on the status of my flight and was surprised to be told my ticket had been cancelled,” Ndegwa said.
He added that when he got in contact with the agent in Dubai, at first she said she does not know anything about him or any other Kenyan workers.
“This got me worried because I knew something was wrong and that I had probably been conned,” Ndegwa said.
Amani said at some point, they lived on the streets for about two weeks after they were kicked out of the cramped house for lack of rent.
Sese said the situation drained her finances as she used to send money for upkeep for her two sons.
“I used to send Sh3,000, Sh7,000 or Sh10,000 for food,” Sese said.
Some of the women ended up selling their bodies to get cash for upkeep.
Amani said they had to surrender to the Kenyan Embassy in Dubai.
They had to be processed and sent back to Kenya on condition that they would be banned from stepping into Dubai for life.
Auma said the situation is exacerbated by the lack of jobs in Kenya.
“This situation is making Kenyan youth desperate,” he said.
“The cartels in this industry are taking advantage of the desperation of Kenyan youth. This is trafficking in persons.”
He said the Immigration department should be stricter with those who are travelling to the Middle East.
“This scam targets the illiterate and the ignorant. Why are the professionals never involved in these cases? Every time there is a case, it is those who go for menial jobs,” Auma lamented.
He said most of the victims usually do similar jobs in Kenya, earning an average of about Sh10,000 a month.
They thus find job promises that fetch up to Sh80,000 a month irresistible.
“They then sign contracts and depart, oblivious of what awaits them,” Auma said.
He said while some rogue agents take girls directly to new employers, others take the girls to warehouses and auction them for up to a month.