When Nancy Achieng, 41, decided to travel to Saudia Arabia in search of greener pastures, her dream was to make money and be able to offer financial support to her family. However, she narrates how things took a different turn and was forced to cut her stay short, come back to Kenya, and work towards rebuilding herself.
In an interview with Tuko, the mother of two reveals that her husband together with her was hardly hit by unemployment in Kenya and this is what convinced her to sign up for a job opportunity as a house help in Saudi Arabia.
“Life was so hard in Kenya so I got an opportunity to go to Saudi Arabia. My mom’s friend came with that solution because she saw what I was going through” she stated
Upon her arrival in the Saudia, Nancy says that she was detained in a cell for about a week before her boss came to pick her. A move that gave her a signal that things were going to be pretty tough but at this point, there was no turning back.
According to Nancy, her job came with a lot of challenges including being given dehumanizing tasks like removing used pads from the inner wears. Her employer also did not seem comfortable with Nancy’s outlook and at some point even asked her to shave her hair and convert to Islam. Her worst encounter was when her employer’s husband and sons expressed interest in sleeping with her.
“When you cook, they do not give you food sometimes you stay hungry, you cry the whole day and night.” she said
Even with these hardships in the picture, Nancy says that she made an effort to send money to her husband for their children’s upkeep with the hope that her lover would make a number of investments.
She would frequently send other items like shoes and clothes with the intention of establishing her business upon her return to Kenya.
Nancy admits that judging by how she was being treated, working in Saudi Arabia as a house help was not a job she would wish to hold on to and when things got worse she flew back to Kenya after well-wishers raised money for her transport.
She came prepared to run her business but Nancy recalls the shock she experienced after she learnt that her husband spent all the money on another woman and there was nothing to account for her efforts and money she made while in Saudi Arabia.
Depression took a toll on her and she confesses to having turned to alcohol and drugs as a way to deal with the disappointment.
“I found out the guy had moved on with someone else. When I came, I was not drinking I was not taking drugs but when I came back…depression, ulcers, I started drinking, using drugs, smoking weed” she said
With time, she had to get back on her feet for the sake of her children and this led her to embark on plastic and carton box collection for sale. Nancy reveals that the hustle has been draining but she is glad that it helps her put food on her table and cater for her children’s needs.
Not so many women are seen pulling carts in the streets and although some people have subjected her to ridicule, Nancy says she focuses on the support she gets from the community and people who support her hustle.
Her dream is to own a pick up to make her hustle easier and in the long run, improve her living standards as well as that of her children. She hopes that other young people trying to make ends meet will be inspired by her work.