Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
I grew up in a house with a house help. My mother always reminded us that the girl was just that, a help; not someone who will take over all household responsibilities. So we all shared duties equally and were raised to call her “sister”. It was hard for a stranger to know who the maid was in the house. Everything my mother bought for us, from clothes to toiletries, she would get her some too.She would get paid leave during school holidays for her to go back home to her family and was later enrolled at a fashion design school for her to diversify her skills. This lady went ahead to stay with us for 12 good years until she was ready to go be someone’s wife.So it came as a shock to me when I visited a home recently and realized that their help is not allowed to sit in the living room when the family is there, her place was strictly in the kitchen.
I was mortified. I always assumed these kind of things only happened in Middle East. She was treating the maid like the 5k she was paying her monthly is even worth anything in the current world. This is a person who you leave your kid with every morning but you can’t breathe the same air?
Granted that there are some housemaids who are complete psychopaths but majority of these maids from hell are not born, they are created over time following incident after incident of maltreatment and unfairness in our homes. Cruelty is a very contagious thing.The chain of cruelty normally starts at the very top with the man of the husband raining abuse on the woman, who then transfers all the bad energy to the poor maid and who is at the very bottom of the chain? It’s the defenseless child. Sometimes the maid is even suffering in silence from sexual abuse by the man of the house and all her pent up emotions are passed on to the poor kid.Unlike other occupations, the maid lives in the house and within time she becomes part of the family and you must treat her as such. Ask her how her day was, talk to her about her family and get to know her people as much as possible.
Believe me the monster who knows you will not maul you completely. A maid should not be treated like an alien in the house. Forcing her to eat yester night’s ugali sukuma while you and yours gorge on goodies is not only selfish but completely idiotic. And in that process you are breeding little privileged monsters that will follow on your footsteps.There are some people making maids live like they are in some kind of jail. She is not allowed to touch the remote, she is not allowed to take food from the fridge, you mark all your household goods at the point where it’s at before you leave the house to make sure she doesn’t consume it in your absence, you make her slave over a charcoal jiko at 4 am in the morning because you can’t trust her with the gas cooker.
At the end of the day it makes one wonder, if you don’t trust this woman with anything in your house, then how do you trust them with the child who happens to be your most treasured possession? Because you realize that after dishing all these injustice you will walk out of there and leave your child to take the heat for all your sins.It’s important to understand that a maid too has issues just like you. She could be dealing with stuff that’s beyond her and giving her a few days off to sort through her emotions is not a sin.Some maids come from very far places and don’t get to see their families until December holidays when they have saved up enough. Money is tight and some carry huge financial responsibilities in their homes.
So before you raise your hand at a maid or slash her measly wages for breaking a glass, remember she is only human and one day you will break her spirit.