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Trapped abroad;Letter

AFTER SPENDING four successful and happy years at a reputable school in Zambia, I saw an advertisement in your paper for Podo Preparatory School here in Nanyuki, Kenya. The advertisement was for a headteacher to establish this new school and because it seemed to be an exciting and challenging post, I duly applied and was accepted.

In July 1998 I moved myself, my children, all my personal possession and even my dogs and cats to start a new life in Kenya. It was supposed to be a two-year renewable contract, which on paper appeared to be satisfactory.

However, over the next six months nearly all the agreed conditions were eroded, costing me thousands of pounds, some of which I had to borrow. Believing I was on contract I thought I could repay loans over the two years.

My main concern was that I had no work permit but I was assured by the board of directors that in Kenya it was permissible to work on a visa while the work permit was being applied for. This was not the case and I was nearly arrested when trying to renew my visa. When I complained to the board of directors about this and the alterations in the conditions of service I was immediately sacked. I was given no notice, no compensation, no return flight - nothing.

I now find myself in the distressing condition of having no income, no home, no transport, no way to return to the UK and having to sell all my possessions in order to survive.

I do not hold your paper responsible in any way for what has happened, but would like to advise anyone applying for overseas posts to ensure that a contract is legally checked and that a work permit is in their hands before travelling. It is also wise to ensure that the school has sound financial backing.

M Hunte Nanyuki, Kenya * Our appointments columns state that overseas advertisements are accepted in good faith and that applicants should obtain full details about a post, travel and accommodation expenses - Editor

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