Shattered Glass: The Dreams Of An African Girl by Emmanuella Doreen Kwofie

It has been a long stressful journey and now everything I pictured was manifesting in the opposite. I asked myself do I really want to do this? Is it worth it? What will they say when I return home? Will my money owed be refunded? I was wondering why I decided to go to the embassy but here I am sitting at the reception of the Ghanaian Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia about to share my story and seek help while it is not too late. I entered the embassy without knowing who to talk to or where exactly to file my complaints. I was very confused and lost. Walking up to the receptionists, I bumped into another lady who looked like a Ghanaian. This lady, whom I later got to know was called Mrs. Nafisa Abdulai apologized profusely and asked whom I was there to see. Thus, begun my story.

My name is Agyeiwaa, I am from Ghana and this is my story. Growing up, life was a bit difficult for my family and I. I was born into a lower-class family where my father was an illiterate man with speech impairment and as such denied jobs wherever he went. My mother on the other hand is a hard-working market woman who had to take care of three children by herself. My family depended on the income obtained from my mother’s sales. My parents could not afford three square meals a day but managed to get me to finish Senior High School so that I could work and take care of my other siblings. After Senior High School, I got a job as a shop attendant in a supermarket. Doing this job helped me earn a little money to support my mother in taking care of the house. My employer gave me a phone to make calls in case of emergencies and to call suppliers of goods on their behalf.

I was scrolling through Facebook one day when I saw an advertisement asking for SHS graduates who would like to travel and work in Saudi Arabia and its surrounding countries. In my quest to earn more money to continue my education and also be able to cater for my family, I called the contact number on the advertisement to make inquiries about the job. One Mr. TK answered the phone and told me the agency will get the necessary documents, pay my flight fee and any other expenses for free. I expressed interest and he agreed to take me to Saudi Arabia. My documents become ready in just three weeks and he told me to prepare to travel in two days’ time. I, however, kept my family in the dark all this while until I was very certain that I would travel abroad. Thus, I only told them the night before I was set to leave the country. My mother initially expressed a lot of disapproval about the journey, however I was able to convince her that I would be making a lot of money which would be able to alleviate the burden placed on her as the sole breadwinner of the family. She thus gave me her blessings. I went ahead to pack my things and said goodbye to my siblings.

Although my flight was scheduled to leave around 10pm, Mr. TK asked me to meet him at his residence at 9am. Whereas I thought I was the only one travelling, it was only upon arrival at Mr. TK’s house that I found out that there were fourteen other ladies with whom I was to embark on this journey with. We were told that we were going to work as domestic helpers and we would be paid $400 a month. We were then made to sign our employment contracts which were written in Arabic which none of us understood. We then proceeded to the airport where we finally left the shores of Ghana at exactly 10pm on 5th August 2017. Immediately we touched down in Riyadh, our passports were seized by the agent Mr. TK. We were then taken to a warehouse where I waited for almost two weeks for my employer to come for me whereas most of the ladies, I came with had long left with their various employers.

Finally, my employer came to pick me up and the agent handed over my passport to him. My employer then took me to a big house where he lived with his external family. This has been my home for three years. Upon arrival, my employer then decided to reduce my salary to $200 a month out of which I also had to pay my agent the expenses incurred while bringing me to Saudi Arabia. Since I did not have any money, Mr. TK took my salary from my employer directly for a year to repay my debt.

At my employer’s house, I was treated like a slave where I was made to work 21 hours a day. I was also being sexually abused by my employer on a daily basis and there was no one I could complain to, nowhere to get drugs to treat the infections I contracted. This continued for so many months before I found out I was pregnant by him. When my employer caught wind of my pregnancy, he tried to poison me which failed. I then ran away from his house with the hope of being able to report this abuse to the law enforcement agencies. However, since my passport was still with my employer, I was an illegal immigrant and risked deportation if I should be caught. For several months, I tried to stay in the shadows on the streets of Riyadh until I chanced upon the Ghanaian Embassy, hence my story.