Ignorance is NOT BlissI remember watching a Bible-based cartoon about the story of queen Esther. At one point Mordecai tells Esther that the entire Jewish population would be annihilated, and that included those in the palace. Mordecai goes ahead to tell her that maybe God put her in her position so that she can deliver other people. And even if she refuses to provide deliverance and relief to her people, God will use someone else.
Today, YOU are Esther and God has put you where you are, to BE a solution instead of waiting for the solution. I speak to myself a lot of times. Today was different; I was in a meeting dubbed Youth Against Slavery Movement alongside several youths from all over the world. That's one moment I really thanked God for having taken me to Saudi Arabia because what I learned today would have passed me by. The point that stood out most was the one on Financial Literacy.
I realized that majority of the women that are taken to work in the Middle East are not financially literate. I have seen several women pose questions on Facebook about ways to send money home, exchange rates, how to open a bank account from abroad, the list is endless. With such questions, you can rightly derive that to such women, work is more important and they are quick to run to it, without considering financial benefits, or lack thereof. And that is how exploitation comes about.
Let me give an example: a woman intending to go to Saudi Arabia will be given all information (mostly false) by the agent or broker. If the agent says the salary is 1000 SR, and it is 28000 Kenya Shillings, a woman that is not financially literate will not know that exchange rates vary. Worse still, when she finds out that the actual salary is less than 1000 SR, she may not be able to calculate. When she is finally able to convert the money in a bank or money transfer agency, she will realize that the money she is working for, compared to the work she is doing, IS NOT WORTH IT! And that is exploitation.
A woman with financial literacy will know how to assess risks. Such a woman will know how to save her money, discreetly, and operate her own bank account to avoid misuse of her money by second and third parties. The issue of sending money home is as sensitive as it is diverse, and can awaken all sorts of debate. However, I would say we need to tackle it from all angles so that our women can return home to a pool of funds to establish themselves with.
It is unfortunate that our women send money home only to realize it was mismanaged by the same people they trusted. It is a worse heartbreak to come to terms with the fact that these are the people they cannot even lift a finger at. Sometimes parents and sometimes husbands. Outsiders will just sneer and say that ‘Arab money is cursed and it cannot build anyone. No, we need to do the math once more and find safer and more professional ways of saving and investing our money.
With financial literacy, I believe we will move a step further into being longer-term solutions to our problems. A step at a time, one aspect at a time.
Today, you are Esther and you ARE a solution. Now that we know where our problems are, let us keep each other motivated to pursue avenues that can make life better for ourselves and our future generations! USISEME BORA PESA. SEMA PESA BORA!