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I Worked As A ‘Shagala’ For One Year In Oman – Miss Falodun

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She traveled out of Nigeria in search of the proverbial Greener pastures but ended up as an abused maid in the lonely Arabian country of Oman.

The story of Miss Falodun Damilola Omowunmi is indeed an eye opener to every young lady eager to travel out and make quick and easy money that human trafficking, modern day slavery and forced prostitution is a reality.

In this short interview with THE AGENDA ONLINE NEWSPAPER, she revealed why and what led her to Oman where she worked as a ‘Shagala’ (housemaid in the local dialect) and how she desperately sought to come back to Nigeria despite knowing that she would lose everything and start all over.

The Agenda Online: Briefly introduce yourself? Who you are and what you do for a living?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: My name is Falodun damilola. A native of Ekiti State but born and raised in Alimosho area of Lagos State. I am from a family of four children and also the last born of the family. I am an orphan, currently a 300 level student of the National Open University Abeokuta Study Centre.

The Agenda Online: Tell us your story?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: It all started when I lost my parents in year 2014. I had to drop out from school. Then I was a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta. After their deaths, I had to do different kinds of job in other to put food on my table. Most times I eat once a day or had to do dry fasting until I developed ulcer.

I secured a job at Inagbe Grand Resorts and Leisure in Lagos as a waitress and that was where I was introduced to the idea of travelling out of the country

The Agenda Online: Continue?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Then I was told working aboard will be the best option since I had no parent again and it will be an opportunity to start a new life and able to go back to school as that has always been my wish too.

The Agenda Online: Ok. So after that what happened next?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Since I was working as a waitress, the agent used that opportunity to confuse me and also because I was an orphan that if I could do that job over there I will be having N500,000 in my account per month instead of N20,000.

So I was happy hearing that. Though we were planning to travel to Canada but since a pastor duped us we had no choice than to go to that country

We were told by the agent that Oman is a good country which everyone will wish to be there.

The Agenda Online: OK

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: On getting to the airport in Lagos, they treated us like queen since the agent has strong connections there. So I thought the man must have a great connection with white people too and I also was happy to meet someone like that.

Until we got to Muscat airport. Someone was already waiting for us there. Immediately we entered the car he collected our international passport saying he will return it when we got to their office.

The Agenda Online: What happened next?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: It was when I got there we knew that it was a housemaid job. We were forced to sign a contract which was written in Arabic. It was a 2 year contact.

The Agenda Online: That is human trafficking?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Yes! A family came to pick me up at the office to work as their housemaid which they call ‘Shagala’ in their dialect. I worked within a range of 13 children.

The Agenda Online: Ok. What was your experience with the family?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Working for an extended family. We scrubbed walls everyday. They don’t repaint their walls. In a day I might work for 6 families without rest

The Agenda Online: Same family?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: I worked for an extended family which is same family.

The Agenda Online: Continue?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: It got to a stage where my boss in the first family I worked for started harassing me.

The Agenda Online: Explain the harassment? Is it of a sexual nature?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: I worked with 2 families before I left Oman. The first family I spent 4 months before I was returned to the Omani agency to change family all because of the sexual harassment I was experiencing with my boss once the wife was not around.

The Agenda Online: Ok!

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: And in the agency, if you want to change a family, you would have to start your contract all over again even if you have spent a year with a family.

So I didn’t mind starting all over again because of the sexual harassment and also I couldn’t return to the country because am not ready to lose my life. Before I could be allowed to change my family I was tortured.

The Agenda Online: Ok

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: I was locked up for a week and also I saw the way they were beating up people. I was also beaten. They insist on me going back to their country.

And over there if the mother has 15 children and cousin that are around you work with them all and you might be lucky to have another housemaid in that family. There was no rest.

Even if you are sick, you must work and they will never take you to the hospital with their own money that is not possible at all

You are not allowed to use your phone outside only when you are in your room.

And since you work for like 19 hours a day, how can you have time to talk to people with the little time you need to rest.

The Agenda Online: Ok

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: No freedom at all

There is no difference between you being in a cell.

The Agenda Online: Did you finally get another family to work with?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Yes!

I worked with another family for 8 months. Making it a year which I spent in Oman.

The Agenda Online: After that, what next?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: I went to another family and experienced same thing but no sexual harassments but the work schedule was doubled because the family members were much and they stayed in a mansion with no other help.

I manage to work there with prayers since I had no choice for 8 months.

The Agenda Online: So, how did you work your way back to Nigeria?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: As you already know that I have lost my parents before traveling out of the country so I used that as an excuse for me over there.

I told them I just received a call from home that my parents were involved in a car accident and Nigerian law states that if a family lost their parents the last born of the family will be the one to bury them or else no one will and I am the last born of my own family.

I just have to turn myself to an actress in order to leave the country. Then I was taken back to the agency office there in Oman.

The Agenda Online: Ok

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: They locked me up for 2 weeks thinking I will change my mind.

All the money I earned for a year was collected and was given a chance to call someone to pay for my return ticket home or else I won’t go back to Nigeria. But to God be the glory I called a family friend in America.

She was the one who sent details of my return ticket to their email at the office.

At first I was happy that finally I would return to my country then I remembered that they have actually deceived people by telling them they were returning and later ended up killing them.

Let me just say it is the grace of God that mine was different.

A second chance to leave!

The Agenda Online: Ok. So on your return, how did you see the country and how did you survive? Did you take any step to find the person or agency which deceived you?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: I returned with absolutely nothing on me.

I survived through a beauty pageant called MOREMI AJASO by Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II.

And when I was there, I promised myself that whenever I returned I will do anything to fight against child molestation and child trafficking.

The Agenda Online: So what have you been doing to discourage modern day slavery?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Have been doing different interviews with TV and radio station and also newspapers in order to let people know what is going on

Also that modern day slavery is real!

The Agenda Online: Ok. After that?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Working on creating an empowerment center only for the survivors of human trafficking.

Most people don’t want to come back home because they don’t want to start life all over again like I did.

Having that will let them have reasons to return home safely.

The Agenda Online: Ok. Apart from these, are you doing anything to earn a living?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: Yes! Am into business. Selling of fabrics (Ankara and lace materials). I have my own shop

The Agenda Online: In Lagos?

Falodun Damilola Omowunmi: You should know I can not discuss the location for my safety.

The Agenda Online: Ok!

Miss Falodun Damilola Omowunmi can be reached through the following media: Instagram Sayno2slavery and email sayno2slavery11@gmail.com

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