News / Africa

Kenyans Line Up for Middle East Jobs Despite Record of Abuse

Kenyans Line Up for Middle East Jobs Despite Record of Abusei
X
April 19, 2013 3:08 PM
Young Kenyans facing a tough job market at home are traveling abroad for work at hotels and homes in the Middle East. While recruiters promise steady work at a good wage, the reality can be much different. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has this report from Nairobi.
Kenyans applying for jobs
Gabe Joselow
Young Kenyans facing a tough job market at home are traveling abroad for work at hotels and homes in the Middle East.  While recruiters promise steady work at a good wage, the reality can be much different.
 
Twenty-year-old Benard Akech has too much time on his hands. Since graduating from high school two years ago, he has yet to find a job in Nairobi.  So, he has decided to look for work abroad.

“I’m planning to go to Dubai for at least 10 years. Then, after 10 years, when I come back to Kenya, I’ll be much better than now," Akech said. "I’ll have my money to take me to do higher studies at university level.”
 
Benard has come to this recruitment office to interview for a job as a waiter at a five-star hotel in Dubai.
 
Hundreds of young Kenyans have passed through this office, looking for work in the Middle East. The successful ones have gone off to become physical trainers, lifeguards or flight attendants.
 
The owner, Lillian Zacho, says finding work is not just good for her clients, it is good for the country. “I want to help as many people, young people, as possible in this country to go out, get a better working environment, get training, and now, since our country is developing so much, most of these young people are the ones who are coming back as managers or supervisors,” she stated.

The number of jobs being created each year in Kenya has failed to keep pace with the fast growing population.

So, many are drawn to wealthy cities in the Middle East, like Dubai, which are desperate for cheap labor to staff luxury hotels and homes.

While some Kenyans have found success abroad, others say they were treated like slaves.

Matilda Mawamba has just returned from Lebanon, where she spent several months working as a domestic servant. She found the job through a recruitment agency.
 
She says she stood for hours at a sink, washing dishes, doing laundry for a large family seven days a week, with no time to rest or go to church.
 
Soon, she caught a chest infection and became too sick to work.
 
"When I was sick, I told my boss that I wasn’t feeling well [and to] please take me to the hospital. He refused. He bought for me Panadols - painkillers," said Mawamba.  "He told me to take this Panadol and continue with the work, not to take medicine and rest."
 
With the help of the recruitment agency, she was able to come home.  She says her life is better in Nairobi, even if she does not have much money.
 
But she worries about her sister, still working in Saudi Arabia. She tries to call her when she has enough phone credit.  Today, she says, her sister must be too busy to answer.
 
After hearing too many stories of abuse, the government last year banned Kenyans from traveling abroad to work as domestic servants, though they can still go for hotel work or other jobs.
 
The Foreign Ministry estimates at least 100,000 Kenyans are working in the Middle East, and recruitment is showing no sign of slowing down.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs