It was supposed to be a fun trip for Susan Mwangi and her family. After all, she was visiting her family back home with her entire family from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas and to top it all, her better half James Wairegi had already planned a ruracio (dowry paying ceremony) where the couple was ready to take the next step.
Things were going to be perfect. Their three kids were going to meet their grandmas and grandpas, aunties and uncles. The five of them would just have a lovely July before the kids went back to school in August. It was going to be a perfect vacation.
Or so she thought.
However for Ms Mwangi, it did not take long for her to start worrying that things may not be quite right.
While still in the US, Wairegi had told her that he had booked them a fully furnished home which was waiting for them when they got to Kenya. On the contrary though, on arrival Ms Mwangi realized that the unit they were supposedly booked at was furnished a few days before they arrived.
To ease her curiosity, she inquired from the landlord about the unit and was told that the unit came bare and that the furniture was bought and brought in by the renters.
She immediately confronted her husband asking why they would buy new furniture since there were only there for a few weeks.
“Why are you buying furniture? Are you planning on leaving us behind?,” she asked him.
“Why would I leave you behind? Do you want to remain behind?,” he responded.
The response should have calmed Ms Mwangi down but it did not. Something kept nagging at her but she could not put a finger on it.
At this point, she realized that her husband had all their traveling documents and she proceeded to ask him to give them back to her.
She says that he told her that he had taken the documents to an attorney for safe keeping and he would get them back once they are ready to head back for the US
She asked for the name of the attorney but that was met with a loud silence. At this point she got increasingly uneasy and asked him to go get her travel documents and those of the kids immediately and she would keep them herself.
According to Ms Mwangi, he told her that he had already paid the attorney and to get them back before their travel date would incur charges amounting to Sh15,000.
“I asked for those documents everyday and that is where it started getting ugly,” Ms Mwangi told Jambonewspot.com
The ruracio came and went but it was not what she had envisioned. She could not get her documents out of her mind.
She was counting days. It was about a week before they were to return to the US.
The family went to visit Wairegi’s parents in Sorai. After a couple of days with them, he called her and told her that she had done him wrong for involving law enforcement in their family disputes back in the US. She responded by letting him know that she did not just call them from the blue and he knew the reasons why.
After a heated discussion, they did not say much to each other for the rest of the day.
The following day which was July 15, Wairegi called Mwangi and told her that he was returning the vehicle they had been using to Nakuru and that they were going to be using another vehicle for the remaining four days in Kenya. The family was still at his parents’ house.
He then told the kids that he was going to see his grandmother. He then left the compound—-for good.
Ms Mwangi got increasingly worried after sunset with no word from Wairegi. She called him and when he answered, he said he was going to spend the night at his grandmother’s house in Murang’a as she had “upset him.”
It was not until the following day that she discovered that his suitcase was also missing. She suspected that her fears may have come true. She asked her in-laws who swore they did not have a clue as to where he was.
But she did not need further confirmation.
She decided to return to Nairobi and report to the police about the missing documents and relaying her suspicions.
She turned to the US Embassy in Nairobi for help on replacing the travel documents. With two of her children being US citizens, the embassy needed their father’s consent to get new passports.
A consent form was sent to Wairegi who said that he was on the road and was unable to sign until he returned to Texas.
Ms Mwangi decided to move from the house they had rented and took the furniture that the husband had bought through his sister. Unfortunately for her, her sister in law reported the furniture stolen and Ms Mwangi was arrested and detained for five hours by police.
“Yes I took the property because my husband bought them through his sister. What were we going to sit on?” she asked.
On the day before their scheduled departure, Ms Mwangi returned to Nairobi and went to Qatar Airways to extend their tickets as the embassy required proof of their departure date. It was here that she was informed that Wairegi had switched his ticket from a departure date of July 19th to July 15th. The change had been discreetly made on June 30th.
She extended their return date to a couple of days before elections hoping they would have the documents by then.
“I am alone here with three kids and I am scared of being here with them during the elections,” she said.
I am running out of money as the document processing is costing me as well as having to pay to extend our tickets until the documents are processed.
Ms Mwangi says that she had run out of funds for daily upkeep of the kids and that is why she turned to a friend in the US who in-turn sought help from a popular Kenyan women Facebook group- Kenya Women in the United States (KWITU).
The group rallied with members contributing to help her financially as well as seek the return of the travel documents in Wairegi’s custody. They created a gofundme page where they have been seeking contributions for her. The link is https://www.gofundme.com/susan-mwangi-and-3-kids-fund-raiser
The pressure has included phone calls to Wairegi to social media postings.
The backlash has been brutal.
Ms Mwangi and the kids just want to get home and move on with their lives. The kids need to be reporting to school while Susan needs to get back to work. For now, she is keeping her fingers crossed.
On Wairegi’s part, he has denied taking the travel documents from his family blaming Ms Mwangi for the loss.
“I did not take their documents knowing that I have two US citizen children. I would not,” he insisted.
Speaking to Jambonewspot.com, he said that the two had been having problems and they did have some run ins at home but that they were not that serious to warrant such an action.
“Ask yourself, why spend my money at the ruracio and then turn around and dump them immediately after? It doesn’t make sense, he said.
Giving a different account from Ms Mwangi, he said that he had booked a different return flight as he needed to get back earlier to continue with his trucking business. He said that Ms Mwangi knew all along and he is now surprised that she is saying otherwise.
When told that his wife had said that an OCS had contacted him before he left the country saying that she had reported him for withholding her documents, he did not deny.
“Yes, a man saying he was an OCS called me and he asked me to go to the station to resolve the matter. I said yes,” he said. “I said yes knowing I was headed for the airport.
Asked whether he is co-operating with the US Embassy demands in Kenya, he said that he was going to sign the documents needed and send them over and that he wants them to come back home.
Ms Mwangi said he is willing to co-operate but says it is only because the KWITU women were on his case and have been exerting immense pressure.
KWITU has given Wairegi an ultimatum to send the required documents failure to which they forward the case to US authorities.
He said he has no objection to submitting them.
“I have been on the road and that’s why I have not. I will submit them soon,” he said.
As for the fundraising efforts by KWITU, he says that he can take care of his family and he does not need any help.
“I did not tell anyone that I cannot take care of my family,” he said. “I do not know what the fundraising is for.”
As for where the travel documents are; we may never know.