A HOUSEMAID whose family had given her up for dead after they had no contact with her for nearly eight years is due to return home thanks to the help of community leaders.
Ethiopian Misrak Alemo came to Bahrain to support her family, but was held as a prisoner in her sponsor's home and prevented from calling her relatives.
Her Bahraini employer also only sent the maid's salary to her family in Addis Ababa twice - leaving them to fear something terrible had happened.
The 30-year-old's case came to light when her mother tracked down and called Ethiopian G W Demmelash to say she feared her daughter may be dead.
Relatives sent pictures to him and other community leaders, who took two years to find the maid.
"We were unaware of the case until her mother called me and started crying over the phone from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia," said Mr Demmelash.
"She said Ms Alemo left the country in 2005 to work in Bahrain and hadn't spoken to them since then.
"We had no clue where she was working and how to find her."
Community leaders eventually had a breakthrough when the maid's brother sent them a copy of a receipt from one of the few times her sponsor had sent the family money.
"They didn't get money from him after that and had no contact with Ms Alemo at all," said Mr Demmelash.
"After getting the number, we contacted him but upon receiving a negative response, we forwarded the number to an officer at Isa Town police station.
"The employer confessed he didn't pay the maid as he was building his house and has agreed to pay her the money."
According to Mr Demmelash, the Bahraini owes her BD3,000 from her salary of BD40 a month. "The employer agreed to pay after police intervened," he said.
"Police asked him to come to the police station along with the maid."
However, community leaders are having to foot the bill of her air ticket home.
An emotional Ms Alemo, who is now living with Mr Demmelash, told the GDN she was longing to return to her family.
"I was unable to control my emotions when I spoke to them for the first time in all these years," she said.
"Now I call them everyday, just to confirm that I am fine and coming home soon.
"My mother couldn't believe it when she heard my voice and started crying, but I told her everything will be okay now."
Ms Alemo has four sisters and three brothers and says the first thing she will do once she returns home is eat some of her mother's food.
"I have to tell them so much and I am sure they have a lot to be shared," she said.
"The first thing I want to do is hug my mother and then eat food cooked by her which I missed all these years.
"I am longing to go back home as soon as possible and be with my family."