I’m Carol, a mother of three from a very humble family in Kenya. Life was not easy when I was younger. I was around three years old, and my younger sister was six months old, when we became street kids. Our dad left us to move to the city and never came back, and our mum became tired and also left us.
We eventually moved in with my grandmother, and I started working as a maid in my teacher’s house. I became pregnant at the age of 16, but the father left me without any support. Kenyan life is very difficult. If you don’t have an education, and even if you do, it is difficult to get a job.
I met an employment agent in Nairobi, who matched me with a rich Kenyan family. The work was very difficult, but I needed to support my family and so I lived through the abuse and exploitation. In 2022, the family brought me to the UK on an ‘Overseas Domestic Worker Visa’, where the abuse continued. I was able to leave this situation with the help of The Voice of Domestic Workers, where I met fellow domestic workers who became my inner family here in the UK.
My life has changed because of The Voice of Domestic Workers. We have classes together, we share and acknowledge each other’s experiences, and we get to build each other up every day.
My life matters regardless of my colour. I have been rejected in many ways by people and society for being black. But through the Future Voices programme, which trains migrant domestic workers like me to become spokespeople, I want to be able to raise awareness about racism, and to reduce the inequality and injustice that people like me face. I was hurting inside, but the more I talk and the more I speak out, the more it helps me heal.
We need the government to listen to our stories and take action to reinstate the pre-2012 Overseas Domestic Worker visa. Currently, when our cases are referred to the NRM, a system for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate protection and support. It takes so long, and we don’t know what the result will be. We live in fear, because we don’t know what tomorrow will look like. The government should give us the right to work, and to do so freely because we would then be able to pay taxes in this country — we are ready to do this, and we need the Home Office to work with us on this.
About the Author
Carol comes from a family of farmers in the Western Province of Kenya, and started working as a domestic worker in her village when she was 17 years old. She regularly attends classes provided by The
Voice of Domestic Workers every Sunday. In her free time, Carol enjoys using the skills she’s learned from the Future Voices programme, including public speaking, blogging and vlogging.