Undercover journalist sold as a slave in Dubai

Country/area: Uganda

Organisation: The New Vision printing and publishing company Limited.

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 4 Apr 2020

Credit: The New Vision company which i work with, Editor-in-chief Barbra Kaija and my supervisor Hilary Bainemigisha.

Project description:

In january 2020 is when i was trafficked to Dubai  and posed as a housemaid in Arab  family. 

I spent one month in the Middle doing Undercover work to follow the life of Ugandan migrant domestic worker in Dubai and what how they leave the country.

I wanted to draw the picture to Ugandans who are looking for work abroad that it is not worth it. I also wanted people to believe my experience not only as a journalist but also as a victim so that it can save many who are already in the process.

Impact reached:

After the first serie, The President of Uganda ordered the State house anti-corruption unit to launch investigations immediately on the matter especially how girls are thrafficked through Entebbe International Airport.

The speaker of parliament of Uganda also commended New Vision for the best Investigative story and exposing corrupt officials.

I was also invited at the panel by African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC2020) to present the same story. 

It was nominated in the  2020 top 10  Investigative podcasts in investigative journalism network (GIJN) from Africa in the whole world.

Vision Group which also takes New Vision commeded it for Editorial Innovation Award for three month (April, May and June).

It has also been nominated in the Fetisov global media awards 2020.

Techniques/technologies used:

I could not any spy cameras to shoot moment  because my company did not have any, even if they hand, i could not risk my life.  I only used my phone to take pictures, audio recordings and video recording. Even when the agent collected all the phones from my colleagues, i hide mine in my private parts. But, the best technique that helped me was observation because i participated in every act.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Bearing hunger, torture in my agents house, in a slave market,  physical torture in my employer’s home was also scary. 

When i was leaving the country, i had a story which i had planned but as soon as i landed at the Airport in Dubai, the story changed. I did not give up but i had to swallow and do it. I did not have any idea about  another agent and the slave market but i endured every stuation to have a story so that people know what domestic migrant workers go through to get jobs in the Middle East.

What can others learn from this project?

While starting this project, i had fear but was on the other hand determined to accomplish it. It takes one’s courage, patience,  determination, personal security and prayers to do a project like this.  

I reached somewhere and lost courage, energy  especially when we reached in a slave market and at agent’s ho,me. I had another bad idea of getting intended accident just to get my passport and return home but it was impossible at that time. 

I thought of committing suicide but i could not. I only wanted to live and tell a story which i later did. I pushed on. Time came and though of how i would escape(of course) with another group of victims, who actually escaped  later without me and i feared it would land into another trouble of getting arrested and imprisonedt without my passport which would cause a possibility of being identified as a journalist.

It was scary, tormenting, harrowing, strange but i had to do it and i made sure i returned safe after starving myself in my agent’s house to look as if i was dyiny tomorrow. I was doing this to get back my passport and return to my home country without any physical scar.


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