For the past years since exportation of labour especially to the Middle East became a viable business venture and a reasonable alternative for Ugandans seeking better employment opportunities with reasonably good pay, there has been a lot of discussion on the pros and cons of sending Ugandan youths, especially as unskilled laborers to go work as house maids, cleaners in those countries.
This debate has often been fueled by different stories in the media concerning human trafficking, Labour and sexual exploitation mostly in the Arab world.
However, to most girls that have been to these countries, the working conditions are almost the same as back home only that they are earning much more than what a Ugandan maid, cleaner is earning in Uganda.
This is why many of those whose contracts have expired fight had to have them renewed.
Naganda Julie Rose, 28, from Kalangala district decided to seek employment in Saudi Arabia in 2016 after she failed to find a job in Uganda, although she had trained as a secretary after her Senior Four.
She contacted 2 Niles Public Relations Agency, a recruitment agency in Uganda that has been exporting Ugandans abroad since 2005 and is a member of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agency(UAERA). The agency got her a 2-year contract as a cleaner at King Saud Hospital.
Naganda says she would work for 12 hours a day with a break on Sunday and was paid her full salary at the end of every month through a bank account, from which she would withdraw the money and send to her people back at home if there was need or put it on her Ugandan account if she wanted to save it.
“Ugandan girls must understand that the same way you find rules in someone’s home, is the same way you will find rules in a foreign country, you have to follow the rules and regulations if you want to stay out of trouble. In Saudi Arabia, they can’t tolerate sexual misbehavior, indecent dressing or theft. If you stay away from those habits, they will treat you with respect,” she says
According to her, apart from the weather which is hot compared to Uganda, the food and the home sickness, the working conditions in Saudi Arabia are even much better than in Uganda
“On top of the salary I received, I had medical insurance and was also given accommodation plus transport, it’s only a few Ugandan employers if not non, that would take care of a mere cleaner like that. The money I saved up, I bought a big piece of land in Gayaza, which is currently being used for agriculture. I have already started on the process to go back because I want to have enough money to construct rentals on my plot of land and start up a small business,” she said
Jackline Namutebi, a 30-year-old female from Luwero, who was in Saudi Arabia for 2 years through 2 Niles Public Relations Agency since 2016 working as a hospital cleaner said the beliefs that most Ugandans hold about the working conditions in the Arab Countries are misinformed and spread by some unfortunate few people who are mostly trafficked by unlawful individuals.
“There are so many casual laborers that are of other nationalities in these countries. It is not only Ugandans working there. There is an organized system that has to be followed by everyone. Not once did I come across a girl that was being harassed. The girls we moved with, we all came back and were always in touch while in Saudi Arabia,” she said
According to Abdul Razak Hussein, the Managing Director of 2 Niles Public Relations Agency, External Labour has contributed a lot to the economy of Uganda and families through remittances and wages for Ugandan workers that have dared to go to foreign countries by improving the economic status and we’ll being of their families.
Mr Razaka faults the media for always publishing negative stories against external labour without purposely seeking out the truth.
“If you follow up most stories of human trafficking and labour exploitation, they are normally related to non-registered, unlicensed companies and unscrupulous individuals that are not part of the external labor sector. Just like you find bad elements in any other sector, it is the same with this sector, the media just has to distinguish the two and not always attack the sector as a whole” he said
“I urge all media houses to always be careful as they publish these kind of stories. This sector is also hugely contributing to the economy and should be respected and supported” he added
According to him, companies like his that are registered with the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agency (UAERA) and the Ministry of gender and labour and social development are changing lives of the Ugandan families by seeking and helping them to acquire meaningful employment in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Abhudabi, Qatar among others as security guards, cleaners, loaders, Housemaids among other many categories.
“We have helped a lot in solving the unemployment challenge in Uganda. We have helped over 60,000 Ugandans to acquire respectable and well-paying jobs in other countries” he said