Being in the states, labor is expensive. It’s a catch 22 situation because we move here to make money, since you get paid more to do jobs that wouldn’t pay you anything back home but at the same time you cannot afford to hire help for the same reason.
At home labor is cheap, just about everyone has a house help (which is the politically correct way of saying maid) and I have also heard other people refer to them as house managers. Everyone has a house help, even house helps have house helps, that’s how essential and available they are.
House helps do everything in the house, from cleaning, to cooking, to being a nanny, to shopping just about everything that needs be done to keep a home running.
So I have this fantasy where, I call my house help while am at work, I tell her am craving chicken tonight, so can you please go to the store get some chicken and potatoes and make them the way I love them mmhhh or I would go to the bathroom and notice a dirty window and when I get out of the bathroom and I tell her that the window needs cleaning. Or like on a Saturday morning, she would get up with the baby and I can get a chance to sleep in, and I just hear them talking and laughing in the other room while I turn and continue sleeping.
We were having a discussion with another mum who is here in the states, we were wondering how do some marriages in Kenya fail. We just can’t imagine with all the help, you have so much time to spend as a couple and enjoy each other without the stress of having to juggle everything else.
I do realize this is just a fantasy, and in reality it’s not as simple. Having someone who is like a total stranger living in your house, having your kids so attached to them, and in some cases they are not dependable at all, having to trust a total stranger with your most precious possession, your baby and many of them do actually turn out to be devils in disguise. Many have abandoned babies, some have kidnapped babies, and some have abused babies. The thought of having to deal with that knowledge while you go to work must be extremely terrifying.
But on the other hand, I do wish our Kenyan mums and family’s would realize how fortunate they are to have this helpers. Having been a stay at home mum for a year, I now realize how difficult it is to balance all the chores and actives in a household and on top of that keep up with kids. I wish I could impart this lesson to my people. We need to treat our house helps more like partners and legitimate employees. They deserve to have rights and vacations, they deserve to spend time with their own families, they deserve to have medical care and retirement plans. They deserve the utmost respect for they are a very crucial and essential part of our economy.
So when I see Kenyan mums treating them negatively and actually going against the law and not wanting to pay them at least the minimum wage, it breaks my heart. It has taken being away from home, and being a stay at home mum, to actually appreciate all that they do for families.