By God and nature’s arrangement there is the generational change. One generation dies off and gives way to the next generation. Every great and ageing person today was once a child. Children are so precious that they need a lot of care in order to grow in the (proverbial) fear of God and be useful and patriotic citizens. At the core of this, the empowerment of women is very critical to the survival of the child. But tell me how many parents actually have time to give maximum attention to their children. I now remember that I was not with my Children during their critical adolescent years. My wife had to take care of them alone while I was upcountry working on the fallacious thinking that I will make more money there.
Back in the days, there was a prominent broadcaster who always said he was going to work like a slave, to live like a king. Well most parents believe in this and in the process throw caution to take care of their children.
We are living in a very predictable world where there is so much evil. For many families where both parents go to work it is almost impossible for many homes to do without House Helps. An eight-year old daughter chatting with her mother the little girl was asking her mother why she closses her room even when the House Help was at home. The mother replied that she does not trust the House Help, that she had money, jewelry and other valuables in her room. The daughter then asked saying why then does she entrust the house Help to take her to school, does it mean she did not value her, her child? Of course the mother was cornered and this opens up a whole lot of issues around employing House Helps to look after children and do other chores.
Tell me do people need house helps? If we engage them what should be their status? Here in Sierra Leone a lot of homes have House Helps, call them House Girl, House Boy, Nanny, or Mont Boy. They are all in one way or the other helping the family with various things ranging from Baby seating to cooking. There does not really seem to be a clear- cut role of House Helps. In most cases it depends on the agreement entered into. There are definitely some risks attached to engaging house helps.
Some House helps take care of babies and toddlers. In this situation the parents both go to work probably far away from home. They live early in the morning and come back home late. These are the babies who are hardly breast fed. For some modern women, it is convenient for them since this deprivation will keep their breasts intact. This is one reason why the exclusive breast feeding campaign is having problems. Our offices hardly make any provision for suckling mothers to have their babies around in the office in a room next to them. There are of course implications. So the life of that baby is entrusted in the hands of sometimes a complete poverty stricken stranger. One thing about most house helps is that they take up the job out of sheer poverty and desperation. The gap between the employer and the House Help is always too wide in every way. This same House Help may also have kids of his her own, sometimes attending school, but are left on their own while the parent goes away to take care of somebody else’s kids. This does not definitely add up. Are you asking if she has a choice?
There is another type of House Helps who look after grown up kids, drops them in school and also picks them up. This one virtually has control over the kids and sometimes develops a very good relationship with them to his or her advantage. The kids will sometimes give gifts and the house help in turn compromises the instructions given to him/her on how to take care of them. In this situation the kids might even pick up unworthy attitudes that affect their future. Some might be introduced to vices like smoking and drinking at very early ages without the parents knowing. Sometimes the house help may even become envious of the employers’ luxurious life and deliberately contrive to spoil the children. They operate like smooth criminals and before you know it; your child is something else.
In situations where the House Help is also a driver for the family, the situation becomes a bit complicated in the sense that he will know more about the family; takes family members to different places and in the process knowing all their secrets they hide from each other. The risky angle is that the driver may drive teenage girls and boys to lovers and bad friends. Like in the second scenario, the driver can actually influence the lives of the kids. Sometimes, in homes where parents are too strict and do not allow their kids to go anywhere except school, the girls make do with the driver and they might get impregnated by him. They say when the desirable is not available, the available becomes the desirable. You see Life’s unfairness?
The worst scenario could be when the House Help who is male finds himself lured into a relationship by the wife or the female house help making love to the husband employer. This can actually break up the home and in most cases the house helps are thrown out disgracefully.
As they say when you tell the dog, you should also tell the bone. How can House Helps enjoy a good working relationship and also not neglect their own families all in the name of making money? Whether we like it or not, in some way House Helps are part of the families they work for. So they should be treated humanely. After all house helps do the jobs families can’t do or feel demeaning to do and thus they should be handsomely rewarded. May be a child of the house help and that of the Employer family ideally should have similar facilities paid for by the employer family. They are people who also have rights and because of the critical role they play in a family, they need to be treated humanely. Since House Helps can actually make or break families. Call it a kind of blackmail, but it is the reality. Simply put pay well or treat well people who do what you cannot find time to do.
No denying that there have been good house helps, just as we have had good bosses. Since it is most times the poor person picking up a job as House Help, it opens up their eyes on the good life they are missing and they definitely do not feel good about it naturally. Accepted that in life there is never a thing like equality in its true sense. One has to realize that the cockroach has more speed than the tortoise but that does not mean it is fast. But you know something? No matter how long it takes, a stammerer must pronounce his name. Does anyone ever teach a baby where their mouth is? Of course No!
By Beny SAM