Jharna, 32, comes from the western area of Nepal. There are 7 members in her family. Due to the poor economic condition as well as large numbers of the family, it was very hard to fulfill basic needs.
Some of my friends had gone abroad - they had found work and had been able to send money home. “I realized that this was a good way for me to follow.” It was very hard for me to meet my basic needs. This prompted me to search for a job but to no avail. “The situation was getting worse day by day. I was not able to feed my family properly. Then I decided to go to Kuwait to get a job.
Jharna left in 2012 for Kuwait to take up a housemaid position through a recruitment person. She used all her savings and took out a loan to pay the fees. She worked for nearly 2 years without proper food and pay. She was overworked and underpaid, but she says that’s normal. She was aware of the stories of awful work conditions and abuse brought back by women who had taken jobs in the Gulf, but she felt she had no other choice.
There were many Nepali workers in Kuwait. No matter where in the world we are, we need friendship for comfort sharing too. When we meet and connect with others and experience authentic friendships, we develop a sense of being at home. We are seen and loved. “During my work, I made many friends. Some of them are very good and helpful. I trust them very much.”
“When my friend shared that she is in trouble and she needs some money, I helped her. But when I was supposed to return to Nepal she disappeared. Neither I got my money, neither I could find her. It was a huge loss for me. I know my family was waiting for me; they were happy to see me, and they thought that I would bring some money as well.”
Life abroad was full of struggle, overworked and unpaid as well as my savings never returned to me. “I came back to my village. A few months later, I got married. Life started with a new chapter and hope that no more tragic things would happen in my life. For about 1 ½ years, I was both emotionally and physically abused by my husband. Looking back, I realize now how I was brainwashed at the time, thinking that he loved me, that things would change. I was in a violent relationship for a couple of years. When you are in a relationship for a long time, you lose your identity.” You believe in the lies you were told. The abuse never stopped until we had our first child. We don’t believe in our ability to live an independent life. No one can understand my situation, and living with him was not a safe place for me or my daughter.
After I left my abusive relationship, I had nowhere to go. I shared my story to a volunteer with Safe Nepal, and she shared with me about the safe house and its vocational training. I wanted to be a part of the family. When I came here, I found love, a home environment, care, and a skill that would help to change my life.