“Chimamanda’s children were falling sick so much. She had tried all the home remedies her mother taught her, plus pharmacy prescriptions but they kept switching symptoms. Once her husband returned from Abuja, they went for laboratory tests only to discover their children aged 2 and 4years had HIV/AIDS. They found out much later, that their 16year old housegirl, Angel had HIV and had infected them by consistently using her own tooth to brush the children’s teeth.”
“We once heard in the news how a houseboy, when the family head had travelled, killed his boss’s pregnant wife, then raped her.”
I’m sure you may have your experience, positive or negative ;I also know young people who were exposed to sex, homosexuality and kinds of bad habits by ‘house-helps’, this then forces me to ask this question, ‘Do we really need househelps? Can we do without them? How can their excesses be checked?’. Even the popular Proverbs-31 woman had servants, so what’s the brouhaha today?
From my observation, having a House-Help clearly seems to me like a ‘Symbiotic’ relationship. The household is overwhelmed with house-chores and their jobs/business , they need help in the house; meanwhile the House-Help needs the money to help his/her own household. The worry now is why this relationship has been unsuccessful in most of the cases we hear. By the way, it is not as if we don’t have success stories of Househelp-Household relationships
Very few people, particularly in Africa are unfamiliar with the term ‘House-Help’. So let’s define it, ‘Who is the House-Help?’ Is it just someone who helps in the house? Google and Wikipedia describes him/her as adomestic worker who performs a variety of household services for an individual or family; responsibilities may include care for children, care for the elderly, housekeeping, cooking, laundry , ironing, food shopping and other household errands. They may or may not live within the household where they work.
That is an ‘Oyibo’ definition, but it rightly captures the term. This is quite different from those relatives who live or are trained (in business or academics) by a household, and thus participate in household chores.
We have established, especially in today’s world, that the household needs the house-help as much as the House-Help needs the household, so where do we draw the line? Must there always the cold war between both parties, each trying to exploit the other or being protective about exploitation? A case of ‘Prey and Predator.
I’ve seen and heard of cases where the household maltreats, defaults in payment of the househelp; cases where members of the household sexually abuse and threaten the househelp; cases where the househelp takes over the household through witchcraft or sleeping with the man of the house…is there an end to this craziness? Let’s lay down our arms and chart the course forward
Should we take the Househelp for health screening, etiquette training and spiritual deliverance before engaging them? Should the household be screened, interviewed individually and legally adviced on their relationship and conduct towards the househelps? Should legal contracts be drawn or helps allowed to join or form Labour Unions? Couldn’t we all just act with love and respect one to another? Can’t preying households be prosecuted or gold-digging helps jailed?
Share your thoughts….