Archives for category: Domestic Workers

Yesterday i was invited to attend an event by the Arupe Jesuit University Harare together with #IOM. They were commemorating 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. I must admit, my knowledge of the #16DaysofActivism is amateurish but definitely not zero. Each time i learn new things about activism and yesterday was no different. Yesterdays topics were safe migration and human trafficking, something that i am very comfortable talking about. In-fact, on other days i do consider myself an unqualified expert on domestic worker issues including safe migration and human trafficking. I thus had a few points to share with everyone for sure. We are still a long way from safe migration as a country.

Fast forward to today, i got into the office and hoping to write about the dead rat in my bedroom that had been giving me sleepless and smelly nights. But as they say ,we have our plans but Gods plans prevail. Shortly, as i sat down , i received a message from one lady i had placed. She went on to explain how her male boss was making sexual advances towards her. She was sending me voice notes explaining how it started and i could feel her pain. As i was listening , there was a knock on the door. Another lady got in , i remembered i had also placed her in Borrowdale and how her boss had never paid for my services ncxah or did she? I therefore had to pause the voice notes for a while. The lady in my office explained how her boss had accused her of being a thief and had reported her to the police. She then spent a night in police cells only to be released after they drove to her place to search for items stolen but could not find any. I then asked her if she was paid her salary and she told me that when she called her boss, she was shouted at and told all dirty insulting words and phrase…ok i am exaggerating but you get the picture right? Being a mini legal expert , i gave her my legal opinion and advise. As we where concluding our chat, she then told me how her boss had beat her!!!! That made me sit upright….

Gender Based Violence against domestic workers is real…..

A few days ago, I had promised to share a lesson on how to survive the heatwave as maids. Somehow, I got busy and kept postponing the lesson until this morning.Zimbabwe woke up to a viral social message about how a 4-year-old died due to a heat stroke. What caught my attention was how the maid received the child from school and could not recognize the signs and symptoms of a heat stroke. Probably, the school also had not and I wonder what the mother is going through. Very sad indeed. From this, we clearly see the important role played by maids in our lives and that of our children. From this, I also realized how important these lessons are. So today, as promised, I will share tips on how to manage the heat as a maid.


1.YOU

Here is what you can do for yourself in this heat

.-Wear light clothes that are loose-fitting and avoid dark colours that absorb heat. For those wearing uniforms, switch to cotton uniforms and avoid other clothes underneath the uniform.

-Always wear a sun hat outside or use an umbrella for outdoor errands like shopping.

-When indoors, wear open shoes or simply walk barefoot on the floor.

-Do heavy work like laundry early in the morning and between 11am and 3pm, stick to light duties.

-Reserve all ironing for the night.

-Use cold water when washing dishes

.-Have a cool bath and regularly soak your wrists in cold water.

-Wipe your face with a wet face towel regularly during the day.

-Stay hydrated and keep a bottle of drinking water with you as you work.

-After work, soak your feet in cold water and after that, keep them elevated.

-Avoid standing for long hours and rest in between work.


2. AT HOME

-Contrary to popular belief, keep blinds and curtain drawn as they block direct sunlight.

-Keep windows and doors open but remember to close them again at night despite the temptation to sleep with the windows open.

-Place a bowl of ice in front of the fan for cooler air.

-Avoid meat dishes and prepare smaller but frequent meals.

-Prepare more of salads, fruit and vegetables.-Keep the refrigerator stocked with cold water.

-Avoid reheating foods or keeping leftovers, cook whats enough.

-Keep food fresh and refrigerated.


3.WITH CHILDREN.

Kids need extra care as their bodies do not hydrate as adults do. Also, their parents will not be there hence, it is your duty to ensure that the kids are ok.

-Avoid dressing them heavily even as they go to school. Ditch the jersey or tracksuit as it will also be misplaced at school.

-Always ensure they have their sunhat on as they leave for school.

-After school, give them a cool bath and change them into very light summer clothes and feed them a small light meal.

-Ensure that they drink water regularly, since most do not like water, serve ‘coloured’ water , juice and fruits.

-Apply sunscreen if they use one, with Sunscreen Protector Factor (SPF) of 30 and more.

-Avoid outdoor activities, and if they are playing outside, ensure it is under a shade and that they have their sunhat.

-Monitor them as they swim or play in the water.


4.THE ELDERLY, CHRONICALLY ILL AND PREGNANT

They also need close monitoring as their bodies also struggle to regulate heat.

-Keep them well hydrated by ensuring they have a constant supply of fluids.

-Ensure that they stay in the shade or cool place always.-Ensure that they wear light clothes.

-Give them a cold wet face towel.-Soak their feet in cold water regularly.

-Allow them to nap directly on the floor when its hottest.


5. WATCH OUT FOR SIGNS OF A HEAT STROKE.

Check for these signs on you or others.

– Throbbing headache-Dizziness or lightheadedness.

-Lack of sweat despite the heat.

-Hot or dry skin.

-Muscle weakness or cramp.

-Confusion.

-Nausea or vomiting.

-Rapid heartbeat.

-Rapid shallow breathing,

-Fainting.


6. WHAT TO DO.

When someone has a heat stroke,

-Firstly call for help, that is, 911, parents, neighbours or the nearest help possible.

Meanwhile,

-Fan over the person.

-Sponge the skin with a cold wet towel.

NB avoid using ice packs unless if the heatstroke was due to heavy exercise.
Stay safe!

A few days ago i received sad news about one of the maids i had been working with, Aunt D. She had passed away in her rural area and buried there. Aunt D had come to me looking for employment as a maid. She was a humble woman who was genuine in her plea. I had told her that to register her we needed a police clearance. She had sold her phone to get the clearance and she had only told me after she sold her phone. I then asked her how she was going to receive interview calls now that she had no phone. She then managed to use her sisters phone for all interviews. Before long , she had gotten a good job and her employer was happy with her work. However, a few weeks later i received a message from her employer saying that she had just packed and left her employment. There was little i could do but i was surely disappointed with her. As it maybe, days later i got a message from her sister saying that they had picked her up in Kwekwe ,lost, with no memory what so ever. The next call i got, a month later, was from her employer saying that the family had called notifying them of her death. The sad part in this whole story is how she died. Aunt D had committed suicide by burning herself down in a hut . See, Aunt D had a history of mental illness that i was not aware of, as she had not disclosed to me her agent. Her employer was also not aware of any mental issues too. However, her family knew about it but they also never mentioned it. It is said she lost her husband a few years back but could not deal with his passing very well hence the mental illness. I am hoping that looking for a job as a maid was a way of moving on with her life. To some extent, i do understand why she did not mention it. Who would want to employ someone with a history of mental illness? There is so many misconceptions and discrimination with regards to mental healthy issues. Now i am wondering whether she had received adequate help and medication prior to her looking for a job. On her side or at least her family, maybe, only maybe, they should have mentioned it. I am also left wondering whether her job triggered her relapse. Had we known, maybe she would not have died. It reminds me of a colleague of mine from Botswana who i met at a fellowship. She was so passionate about mental health issues and back then we did not fully understand her passion. Now, i have renewed respect for her work. At times it is not necessary to hide a persons past. The past as they say will always come back to haunt us, it definitely did . I even wondered if she had a funeral policy , these days they are now affordable. May we take time to chat with the workers in our homes, let us know their past and let us be open so they can talk to us freely. Importantly, encourage them to have funeral policies. May Aunt Ds’ soul rest in eternal peace.