House helps, commonly known as housemaids are masterminds behind the daily cleanliness and good feasts of almost every home in which they are hired.
However, some have been forced to look at their work as a ‘curse’ other than a blessing through which they earn a living. In my neighborhood, Ann Baine, (not real names) works for an affluent family but she calls it ‘hell’.
She says her boss; the wife of the home has often abused Baine’s humility. She has been on several occasions been forced to wash under garments for both the wife and husband of this home.
She also complains that the children of this home, the last one being in primary six demand that they are bathed on a daily basis.
For long, there has been continued suffering of house helps, mostly about harsh conditions in which they operate. These are normally hired to do the cleaning and cooking among other house chores. Others I talked say they undergo a lot of abuse at the expense of earning a living.
Firstly, many of these helps say that they are denied rights of expression in times of discontent. This seemed to itch many as they explained that if there is anything wrong causing dissatisfactions and needs attention, at least they should be allowed to express themselves.
For some who are members of labour associations, they still stage similar claims. They say that their bosses in the different associations mind less about their wellbeing.
“I think the objective of these associations is to trade and earn big other than solving our grievances. They are just brokers of labour to earn a commission,” one of the house help alleged.
Sometimes house helps are taken for ‘machines’, they are not allowed to relax. Many claimed that even if their work is done during the day, it is forbidden to be found seated or resting.
“Imagine a situation where you have done your work and feel like having a rest for half an hour but your boss claims you’re a lazy borne,” said one housemaid.
“Our bosses believe in being busy, you rather pretend that you are doing something but you don’t seem idle,” he continued.
Because of this, many say end up sleeping less since they are only allowed to go to bed after their bosses have done so. And cannot even afford to rest during the day because of a lot of work. They then wake up early enough to make breakfast before the ‘honorable’ family wakes up.
“Some bosses take to far to the extent of having separate cups and dishes, strongly prohibited from using other utensils not entitled to us” said another house maid.
They say that they are not allowed to sit in the leaving room in the presence or absence of their bosses and visitors.
And that they are even supposed to eat and drink from outside or the kitchen and that is after the entire family has finished.
“How can one despise you that much? Yet, all the delicacy they enjoy is prepared by none other than me ‘the curse’, one claimed. He considered himself a curse because no one ever wants to relate or get close to him.
These house helps are also human beings, who are never allowed to have any form of home entertainment. Perhaps the only leisure time we get is the conversations and jokes we share with fellow maid, said one female maid who works with another houseboy.
“We are regarded the most arrogant and ignorant yet some of us have ever been to school though not that successful to achieve the best out of education,” said a 21 year old maid. This one even tries some French prove his point right.
The bosses without understanding the intention of this subject claim that someone who is to earn a pay ‘deserves no respect’. He or she is not part of the family and on the other hand therefore, why give him or her that due respect.
And that if someone is going to be paid, why need rest? That would mean paying for sleeping or resting yet there is no work done. So, they are supposed to work all day and be paid what their work is worth.
“Besides, these people are arrogant, when you show them some respect, they begin to undermine and under look your commands at home towards their work,” one bitter boss said.
However much there are a few motivations for some while on duty, they still incur expenses such as medical care which according to them is sometimes higher than their monthly salaries. Some when sick are given medical care but expected to try hard to resume work.
Some of the motivations include, giving them clothes, shoes and among other things letting them visit their relatives on Christmas, Easter and going for burial in case of loss of a close relative.
My advice of them persisting until God answered their prayers to many, did not sink. They say that had it not been for the sake of earning a living, they would not be here justifying their woes.
The few courageous ones promised to be obedient whatsoever comes their way. These said that life is full of ups and downs so and therefore had to persevere.
Many of them say that if a chance comes, they would quit these ‘trashy’ jobs for more challenging jobs with a peaceful and harmonious environment. Some even consider going back to school if a chance arose.
“For God’s sake, we need attention and care just like any other human being, as we continue serving to the best of abilities,” many cried out.
And that these people still need to earn a pay, they feel keeping silent could be good enough to make their jobs secure. If treated well surely, such claims would not be unfolded.
We should not forget that there are good employers who treat these house helps in a human way and extend good things to them though the scale displays more of grievances than appreciations.
Therefore, for the good of our own Godly blessings, let us treat these people well to calm down some of these ‘allegations’.
But if not so, the human rights commission might come in for their rescue which is more costly than just being good to them.