A young lady who has identified herself as Judith Nkansah has narrated how she had to survive on fresh tomatoes for dinner while she worked as a maid in Lebanon.
This, she said, was part of the ordeal she endured in the second home she worked in.
“What I eat for dinner is tomatoes, I chewed them. That is what I was ordered to eat,” she stated.
Miss Nkansah left the shores of Ghana in pursuit of money to pay off her a loss of ¢5000 she made while working at a banking support company in Kumasi.
According to her, she left with the mindset that “no matter how it was, I have to make that money to pay the company back”.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Miss Nkansah said her employer and his son made constant sexual advances towards her during her stay with them which she always fought off.
“I would be in the bathroom and the man would barge in on me. His wife was getting suspicious of her husband’s and out of jealousy, she was maltreating me. It was like hell for me,” Miss Nkansah narrated.
She said that contrary to her work contract, her salary for three months was withheld.
This experience was after her first assignment where she was taken on as a restaurant cleaner.
“I was supposed to be paid $400 according to an Ethiopian girl I was going to relieve of her duties but instead, they told me I would be paid $200 for the same work. We close at 3:30 am at dawn and go back at 8:00 am. But right from the restaurant I have to work in the house as well, so there was no rest for me,” she recounted.
After months of ill-treatment, she conceived the idea to act like a lunatic, compelling her bosses to send her back to her agent in Lebanon.
She was subsequently deployed to the second sponsor where she had to live on tomatoes.
In the course of her ordeal in the second home, a way of escape presented itself.
She jumped at it, and according to her, that saved her life.
“I heard about Ibon World and a free flight that was coming to rescue us. I jumped from one balcony to the other from the second floor,” she said before bursting into tears.
Her return together with other victims was facilitated by the government through Ghana’s ambassador to Egypt, Dr. Winfred Nii Okai, the Lebanon community in Ghana and other well-meaning organisations.
Judith’s story is one of the thousands of Ghanaians who are trapped abroad in homes as maids in a system called ‘Kafala’.
Kafala requires unskilled labourers to have an in-country sponsor who is usually their employer to be responsible for their visa and legal status.
The practice has been condemned by human right activists and organisations by because it leaves them open to exploitation.
This system is used to monitor migrant labourers who are working primarily in the construction and domestic sectors in Gulf Cooperation Council member states and a few neighbouring countries such as the Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Some former members of this system such as United Arab Emirates have reformed the system and made it more transparent.