I was forced to slaughter, cook fat snakes for two years

Maria Mmboga [Photo: Courtesy]

If you are planning to go to the Middle East for greener pastures, think twice. For Maria Mmboga, going to Saudi Arabia was the worst decision she ever made.

Besides thorough beatings in the two years she was in Riyadh, the capital city, Maria was forced to cook snakes while in confinement and only God saw her through her return to Kenya, she says.

 Maria told The Nairobian that when she secured a job and with it a visa in 2014, “It was one of my happiest moments. I was elated and said to myself, ‘this is the breakthrough I have been praying for.’”  

She said everything went on as planned and they landed in Ryadh and were taken to a bureau where she met people from other African and Asian countries.

Saudi Arabia [Photo: Courtesy]

“At the bureau where the employers come for you, there were Indians, Filipinos and Africans, and we were treated well and I didn’t expect any foul play,” said the now born-again Christian. She recalls that life shortly changed after her employer came and took her to Halfar A-Batin,  a far-flung rural region, 430 kilometres north of Riyadh.

“It was a confined place, very hot and isolated. I was given a hijab which I was warned never to remove.”

Maria’s phone was also confiscated and broken into pieces before being warned never to leave the compound alone or talk to anyone.

Her boss who was a police officer became wild and his wife used a knife and a piece of wood when talking to her, she claims. Their daughter followed suit, forcing Maria to work day and night without rest in between verbal abuse and beatings.

Maria Mmboga [Photo: Courtesy]

When she asked her boss why they were treating her like an animal, she was beaten and told she is a slave and they paid a lot of money to buy her. She had to work.

“The first six months passed without a salary and I knew things had changed for the worst. I had to find my way out,” she said, adding that she kept on praying in her room during the one-hour sleep break.

“After slaughtering snakes and cooking them for months, I could not sleep anymore because I would see them in my dream and wake up shouting. That alone resulted in more beatings at night,” she adds. She says her prayers were finally answered after two years without pay, after enduring torture.

From nowhere, one of her boss’ friends who was also a police officer, who was visiting was concerned about her condition.   

“I gained courage after his visit and went to my boss knowing that I could be killed in the process. I told him my contract was over and that I wanted to go back to Kenya with my full pay,” and after about two weeks, she was released and paid almost all her dues.

“I didn’t believe I was coming back to Kenya until the plane took off. It was like a dream come true,” she said adding that when she landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, she was like she had reached heaven.

Maria who is now living in a church and has recorded her first gospel song advises Kenyans to love their country with all its challenges, as it’s   still the best country. “When I hear people say I hate Kenya, I pity them because they don’t know what they are talking about,” she warns.   


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