Determined efforts to conceal her anguish were in vain as streams of tears rolled down Josephine Muropa’s cheeks.
She was narrating to us how her daughter, Ruramai, had been sold into servitude.
Hunched on a sofa in her two-room cottage in Chitungwiza’s Unity N suburb, it took a great deal of effort to tell the story.
“My daughter did not do anything wrong to anyone, she was only looking for a better living but they sold her into slavery and she is now suffering,” Josephine said.
This was a few weeks ago and the world was a dark place for mother and child.
Ruramai, like many other young Zimbabwean women, fell victim to a suspected human trafficking ring.
It is alleged she was signed up by a bogus employment agency to do domestic work in Kuwait but discovered soon after arrival in that country that she was going to be an unpaid labourer.
Ruramai tried to escape but she was captured and confined as her handlers demanded US$3 000 for her freedom.
Josephine had neither the money nor the means to help her daughter. Then came an ultimatum: pay the money immediately or Ruramai would “disappear from Earth”.
However, a month after that, Ruramai is coming back home.
After The Sunday Mail Extra of March 20, 2016 published the story of how Ruramai’s plight in Kuwait, the young lady soon got help from the Zimbabwean Embassy there.
“I am happy she is now in safe hands and she is coming back home,” Josephine said last week, bursting with joy. “She is not yet with us but she is at the Embassy and they are treating her well there. I cannot ask for anything more because when she was being held hostage she was being abused but now she is living in a safe place with good people.”
Josephine said they had no option but to raise the money being demanded. With the help of friends and relatives, the US$3 000 is there and only Ruramai’s air ticket remains to be bought.
“With the help of relatives, friends and the embassy we managed to raise and pay the money they were demanding,” Josephine said. “There was no option, they were threatening to sell her and we don’t know what might have happened to her if we had not paid that money. I speak to her and she says she is fine. We are expecting her any moment from now.”
Ruramai said by by phone she says she is staying at Ambassador Mark Marongwe’s house and she might already be in Harare as you read this as she anticipated getting on a flight home last Friday.
“My family managed to raise and pay the money to the agent and right now I am waiting for an air ticket,” she said.
“I am staying at the ambassador’s house, the embassy has been giving me a lot of help and I am grateful. The issue of the air ticket is being sorted and I am likely to board a plane to either South Africa or Mozambique. From there I will connect by bus to Zimbabwe.”
It will be a joyous reunion when Ruramai finally meets her family again after having been subjected to unbearable suffering in a foreign land with no-one to turn to.
Nevertheless, she is just one of the very few fortunate ones who have managed to escape captivity.
Over 200 Zimbabwean women are still believed to be trapped in virtual slavery in Kuwait and other countries, and activists are unhappy with the way the issue of human trafficking is being handled.
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe last week said Government should treat the issue with urgency and bring back the remaining women that were trafficked to various countries, particularly Kuwait.
“The Government was applauded for repatriating about 13 girls though there is still need for the Government to urgently assist all Zimbabweans in Kuwait and other countries,” said WCoZ members at the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre Network last week.
They also resolved to engage the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Women’s Affairs, Kuwait’s Embassy in Harare and other diplomatic missions in an effort to help trafficking victims.
A trafficking victim who fortunately made it back home last week expressed a bit of disappointment towards Zimbabwe’s foreign office in Kuwait.
Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joey Bimha said Government was making progress in repatriating hundreds of young women still trapped in Kuwait.
◆ Note: Ruramai and Josephine Muropa are not their real names. sunday mail