After graduating from Kyambogo University in 2013, Maxwell [not real name] looked for a job for over a year. When he failed, he decided to contact a friend in Abu Dhabi [U.A.E] and today works as a security guard for a drilling company. Maxwell shared his story with LinkmeUg.
LinkmeUg: Why did you leave Uganda?
Maxwell: There are no jobs in Uganda especially for people without experience and the jobs available pay so miserably.
LinkmeUg: You are a graduate, why are you working as a guard?
Maxwell: I think our government markets us that way; even our embassies don’t do much to present us as professional people. There is also high competition in this country for professional jobs from Asians and Whites. So while we wait for professional jobs to show up, we have to do the odd ones.
LinkmeUg: Are you registered with the Ugandan embassy?
Maxwell: I don’t even know where it is; and the embassy too doesn’t know where most of us are.
LinkmeUg: How did you get the job in Abu Dhabi?
Maxwell: A friend who was already working in Abu Dhabi helped me get in touch with a recruitment company in Dubai but it took me almost a year to get done with all the paper work. The entire process cost me about 8 million shillings.
I paid through Paypal and that amount paid for documentation, labour placement and Commission.
LinkmeUg: What is your accommodation like?
Maxwell: Luckily for me, accommodation is provided [on site] and it comes along with food. I only buy food from a restaurant when I want something different.
My room houses 6 people but sometimes it’s not full. Currently I have 2 roommates; one works day and the other night. We get along pretty well.
LinkmeUg: So how much do you earn and how do you spend it?
Maxwell: I earn 3 million UGX which I spend on a few things like ..but I send home money and I am saving for a personal business back home.
LinkmeUg: We have heard about discrimination against Africans, have you experienced it?
Maxwell: Yes, we Africans are given the dirtiest and hardest jobs. But if you work with whites like I do, they are respectful. But all together, racism is in many ways. For example a black person can never win a case against an Asian, white let alone an Arab. So we tread carefully
But I think it’s worse for workers who live with their bosses like maids, there is no way they can be helped because they don’t even move about like me.
LinkmeUg: Do you have your documents with you?
Maxwell: I have heard that some people’s documents are taken from them and they never get them back. The policy here is that when you get here, you submit your passport to the authorities to make you an emirates citizen card which you pick after a month.
However, many Africans don’t go back to ask for their papers out of fear and that is how they remain “undocumentated.” About bosses who withdraw their workers’ papers, I cannot comment about it because I have not witnessed it.
LinkmeUg: What plans do you have?
Maxwell: I plan to work here till I have enough money to start something back home. I am saving as much money as I can so that I can start a school or a hotel.
Thousands of Uganda’s young people are scattered across the world working to make ends meet. Unfortunately, many are not registered with Uganda’s missions abroad and so cannot receive help when they urgently need it yet most were trafficked out of the country.
We call upon the Ugandan government to intensify their efforts in locating all Ugandans working abroad and returning those enslaved.
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