CAUSES OF DEATH QUESTIONED

Agony for families as loved ones' bodies stuck in the Middle East

They have appealed to the government to help them get bodies of their daughters back.

In Summary

• The three are Carolyne Aluoch, Beatrice Waruguru and Lucy Wambui.

• Haki Africa has filed a petition seeking court orders to stop the exportation of 35,000 other Kenyans to the Gulf for employment.

Mercy Wanjiru
Mercy Wanjiru
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

Families of three Kenyans who died in the Gulf now want the government to help them get the bodies of their loved ones.

The three are Carolyne Aluoch, Beatrice Waruguru and Lucy Wambui.

Carolyne, a twenty-five-year-old, left her home to go look for school fees for her children. Through a private company, she secured a househelp job in Saudi Arabia.

Things soon turned for the worse when her sister Beryl received a video showing a bruised Carolyne. In the video, she is also being forced to sign documents stopping her return to Kenya. 

Beryl later received calls from Carolyne’s boss claiming that her sister was sick and had been transferred from a general to a mental hospital. At this point, the authorities claimed Carolyne was acting like one with mental instability.

On April 27, Carolyne’s boss allegedly blocked any communication with her family after promising to give more information about her.

After several attempts to reach Carolyne’s boss, her father received a call, enquiring about his relationship with Carolyne and if she was working in Saudi Arabia. Then the bad news hit home—Carolyne had died on April 14, the caller said.

Beryl called the number again to confirm the news. The number belonged to the Foreign Affairs Diaspora Unit, which said Carolyne's death had been confirmed by doctors and her sponsor.

A letter sent to the family on May 5 indicated that while in hospital, Carolyne hid in the bathroom and was later found dead—a sign of suicide.

Beryl then reached out to the agency that posted the death of her sister. It denied the claims but later confirmed she had met her end.

The family has, however, dismissed the suicide claim after receiving videos of Carolyne’s mistreatment from one of her colleagues.

Attempts to get Carolyne’s body have been unsuccessful. The family has written several letters in vain to the embassy and the agency.

Ruth Atieno, mother of Carolyne Aluoch.
Ruth Atieno, mother of Carolyne Aluoch.
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

For Lucy's family, their loved one was taken to Iraq through a broker named Elizabeth. After one year, she was shifted from one employer to the other with no formal transfer documents.  

Lucy left her four children under the care of her parents. On December 20, 2020, she talked to her family and she said she was fine. Two days later, a Kenyan working in the same country got wind of Lucy’s death and posted it on a Kenyan WhatsApp group.

On December 28 that year, her brother Aaron Ng’ang’a received the shocking news that her sister died in her employer’s house.

Later, four different people from Iraq reached out to Aaron giving him details of his sister’s passing. They said she did not have her formal documents.

A visit to the Foreign Affairs office led them to the Iraqi Embassy in Gigiri, Nairobi, where they were asked to acquire a lawyer to help them pursue the case.

The embassy confirmed Lucy’s death and the family has since been trying to get her body for burial.

Rose Nyambura, mother of Lucy Nyambura.
Rose Nyambura, mother of Lucy Nyambura.
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

Beatrice, too, travelled abroad in search of greener pastures. She went to Saudi Arabia in March this year to work as a househelp.

A month later, she talked to her cousin James, expressing fear for her life. This was the last time her family heard from her.

An agent working for the company that helped Beatrice acquire the job told her mother that it was their decision to hand over the body or withhold it.

The family wishes to get the body of their daughter back, in whatever condition, they are psychologically prepared, her mother Mercy Wanjiru said.

The three families have pleaded with the government to help them get the bodies of their loved ones.

Haki Africa, a human rights lobby, jointly with some family members, has filed a petition seeking court orders to stop the exportation of 35,000 other Kenyans to the Gulf for employment.

Haki Africa member Salima Njoki urged the government to create jobs to reduce the number of those travelling to the Gulf.

“There has been a rise in such cases, we are informed that there are 35,000 more women yet to be transported to Saudi. It is the government’s obligation to ensure we, citizens, have decent jobs. They need to create jobs for our young boys and girls to reduce these cases,” she said.

She also asked the government to abolish the agencies that link these girls to such employment opportunities.