Damilola Falodun’s journey to Oman is like every other person who leaves her native country in search of greener pastures.
Damilola was just 19 years old when she lost her dad in 2014. During that time, she was preparing for her Ordinary National Diploma first semester exams at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun state, when she received the bad news. As a result, she missed the exam.
Just four months after her dad’s death, she received another bad news. This time, it was her mother, who died of hypertension. Damilola’s mother’s death happened at the start of her second semester exams. This made her drop out of school and took up a job as a waitress at a resort in Epe.
It was while she was there that two siblings introduced her to a travel agent who would help her secure a visa to Oman.
Oman is an Arabic-speaking country of about 2.9million people. It has a history of showing little respect for human rights. Several stories about the ill-treatment of migrant workers have been reported from the country which operates absolute monarchy.
Unfortunately, she was duped. While trying to get over the shock, she met a real travel agent who told her that Oman was in need of workers and visa processing was very fast. She was then encouraged to come over by one of her friends who was there.
So, she saved enough and was soon on her way to Oman. When she got there, she saw other African girls, who had come there to work also. Their passports and other traveling documents were seized before they were assigned homes to work.
Unfortunately, Damilola was not aware of the nature of the jobs available in Oman until she was told that the only job available for African girls was house-help and prostitution.
Their phones were also seized and the only means of communication were coded text messages under the scrutiny of the masters.
Unknown to the girls, the agreement signed by the Nigerian agents was that the girls would be there for two years. The Omani agents would also pay about N700, 000 to the Nigerian agents, which would be used to facilitate their tickets, visas and traveling documents.
But the Nigerian agents would also demand about N600, 000 from their victims for the same purpose.
Sadly, the Nigerian agents were also aware of the inhumane treatment the girls would go through once they reached Oman.
“In Oman, we were told by the Omani lords in a simple language, ‘You are our property. We have bought you for two years and you don’t own yourself until you finish the contract,’” Damilola told Vanguard.
The girls are expected to work for at least one year before their salary would be handed over to them, however, the work conditions are made so unbearable that one may not be able to work in a place for that long.
Damilola’s first work experience was with a family of five children with a little child to babysit. She was under constant sexual harassment from her master because he was always at home while his wife went to work.
Tired of his gimmicks, Damilola acquired a phone, which she usually hid under her panties for fear that it would be discovered. One day, she had the opportunity to record the man’s abuse which she reported.
She was then given to another family, who wanted her to adopt them as her foster parents when she told them she lost her parents. The family wouldn’t let her go until she lied to them that she would die if she’s not allowed to bury her parents as tradition demands in her country.
Thankfully, a family member residing in the US helped Damilola with the ticket to return to Nigeria when she reached out for help. She returned to Nigeria in May 2017 after spending about two years in Oman.
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