Imagine working abroad for nearly a decade only to return home without anything. This is the story of Teresia Wambui, a Kenyan mother of two who recently returned to the country from Lebanon after nine years.
Wambui, who hails from Thika, Kiambu County moved to the Gulf nation in 2011 with the hope of securing her future and that of her two kids but ended up wasting nine years of her life.
Soon after she arrived in Beirut, her employer confiscated her passport and would later learn that she had “been bought.” This was the beginning of a miserable life characterized by sexual harassment, torture, mistreatment, and racial discrimination.
She says she learned to appreciate simple things such as getting out of the house freely, making phone calls, and meeting friends. She was always monitored whenever she went out or made a call.
“I was not allowed to eat with them, touch their children with bare hands and I would work from 5 am to 1 am. It was exhausting and I was suffering,” she told Daily Nation in an interview.
A few years after her arrival, she visited the Kenyan Consulate in Beirut to seek help in processing travel documents but she was asked to pay $2,000.
She could not raise the amount and was forced to remain in the country until this month when she returned to Kenya alongside a group of other Kenyan women stranded in Beirut following an explosion in August.
For Wambui and several other Kenyan women in Lebanon, the August 4th explosion in Beirut was a blessing in disguise. Following the deadly blast, they camped outside the Kenyan consulate and after weeks of protest, the government facilitated their repatriation.
“I may not have returned with anything from Lebanon, I’ve come back empty-handed but I’m happy. At least I returned alive and with my children,” she said.