Nairobi News


How Good Samaritan saved Middle East-bound Kenyan woman

A Kenyan woman will forever thank a stranger she met aboard an airplane for saving her from probably a lifetime of slavery and exploitation in the Middle East.

The chance encounter that saved Shantel Nyaboke, 21, from falling into the same trap many jobless Kenyans have fallen into in the past happened many miles away from home, inside a Turkey-bound flight.

All through the journey, Nyaboke had mistakenly believed that she was on her way to Qatar for greener pastures. What she did not know, though, was that her final destination was the war-torn Middle East state of Iraq.

But the small talk she struck with a fellow Kenyan traveller aboard the flight is what opened her eyes to the horror that probably awaited her.

The Good Samaritan, who requested anonymity, recounted how he and Nyaboke got talking and he realized that she was oblivious of the danger she was getting herself into.

“I’m travelling to the United States via Istanbul, Turkey. I strike up a conversation with a girl carrying an East Africa passport. She looked lost so I asked if she needed help,” the man told Nairobi News via WhatsApp.

According to the man, Nyaboke, who hails from Kisii County, thought she was going to Qatar to take up a job as a domestic worker but her contract and boarding pass indicated that her final destination was Iraq.

The man also took a look at her contract and noticed a few things which did not add up.


After chatting with her, he says, he gathered that Nyaboke’s contract did not state her salary, expected working hours, and there was nowhere indicated whether she would have any off days.

“I thought it was a bad deal and advised her as much. At which point I told her the best thing for her was to return to Kenya, an advice she took,” the man told Nairobi News.

“I took her to the Turkish Airlines help desk and they promised to get her a ticket back tonight (Monday). I gave her some dollars for food and all the Kenyan Shillings I had on me for her to use when she gets back home.”

According to the Good Samaritan, Nyaboke doesn’t appear to know much about Nairobi.

Shantel Nyaboke's passport. PHOTO | COURTESY
Shantel Nyaboke’s passport. PHOTO | COURTESY

For that reason, he says he requested a few of his friends in Nairobi to ensure that she gets home safely.

When Nairobi News contacted Nyaboke’s mother, who only identified herself as Tabitha, she expressed gratitude that her daughter was returning home safely.

“My daughter left home to seek greener pastures. If she ran into trouble, I will be happy when she returns home,” said Tabitha.

Nyaboke may be fortunate to return home safely, but not many Kenyan women have been as lucky.

The desperation of many of these Kenyans, who want a better life, and the greed of unscrupulous agents, has seen many of them ending up in servitude in the Middle East.


This is despite reports of abuse which prompted Kenya in 2014 to ban its citizens from seeking domestic work in the Middle East and to revoke the licences of 930 recruitment agencies.

In March this year, two Kenyan women were reported to be languishing in jail in Iraq after allegedly falling out with their employers.

The two, who had been employed as domestic workers in the Middle East country, were incarcerated after their employers turned against them.

One of them, Grace Mwihaki Gachunga, moved to Iraq last year but her employer failed to pay her for three months.

She reported the matter to the police with the hope of getting justice but she was instead arrested after her employer accused her of stealing money from him. She ended up being held in custody at Basra Police Station.

The second woman, Hellen Nyaboke Rioba, who hails from Kisii County, reportedly went to Iraq in search of employment so that she could take care of her two children back home.

But a few months before her contract expired, her employer accused her of stealing valuables from him.

She was immediately arrested and her family only learnt about her troubles from an Iraqi police officer only identified as Ahmed.