Anthony Mbare had high hopes that his move to Europe, specifically the UK, would improve his life and that of his family. Desperate to escape Kenya’s shrinking job market, he seized an opportunity for employment in the UK, paying £2,500 (Sh. 457,400) for visa sponsorship. In 2022, he and his family relocated to the UK with dreams of a better life.
The job offer promised an annual salary of £21,200 (Sh. 3.9 million), a significant increase from what he could earn in Kenya. However, upon arrival and commencement of work in the UK, Mbare quickly realized that reality was far from what he had envisioned.
His job as a caretaker for the elderly demanded long hours, with Mbare working up to sixteen hours a day, contrary to the terms of employment that had promised a 40-hour workweek. Additionally, he received less pay than initially agreed upon, earning only £1,100 (Sh. 201,200) monthly instead of the promised £1,766 (Sh. 323,200).
To exacerbate matters, his employer required him to acquire a vehicle, further reducing his earnings. Fed up with the constant complaints about work conditions, Mbare’s employer ultimately terminated his employment and refused to provide him with a job reference letter.
Mbare’s attempts to secure other care jobs in the UK were hampered by the lack of a job reference letter. Facing a 60-day window to find employment or face deportation, he decided to return to Kenya. Today, he works as a carpenter in his hometown of Juja, Kiambu County.
Reflecting on his experience, Mbare expressed disappointment, saying, “I thought this job in the UK would make my life better.” To compound his challenges, Mbare now carries a debt of £10,000 (Sh. 1.8 million) incurred during his move from Kenya to the UK.