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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…..

Lesson No 4

By the end of this period, most babies have reached the following milestones:

Motor Skills
 Rolls over both ways (stomach to back, back to stomach)

 Sits up with, and then without, support of his hands

 Reaches for object with one hand using the raking grasp

 Transfers objects from hand to hand

 Supports whole weight when on legs and held upright

 Explores objects with hands and mouth

 Explores objects by banging and shaking

Language Skills

 Laughs  Babbles consonants (like ba-ba-ba-ba-ba)

Social/Emotional Skills

 Distinguishes emotions by tone of voice

 Finds partially hidden objects

Lesson No 3.
We start on a New Milestone Today; 4 to 7 months.

From 4-7 months of age, babies learn to coordinate their new perceptive abilities (including vision, touch, and hearing) and motor skills such as grasping, rolling over, sitting up, and may be even crawling. Babies now have more control over what they will or will not do, unlike earlier months in which they mainly reacted by reflex. Babies will explore toys by touching them and putting them in their mouths instead of just looking at them. They can also communicate better and will do more than simply cry when they are hungry or tired or when they want a change in activity or a different toy.
By this time, babies have developed a strong attachment for their parents, and they may show a preference for their primary caretakers; however, babies at this age usually smile and play with everyone they meet. Many children at about 5-6 months of age demonstrate stranger anxiety and may show displeasure if taken away from a parent.
Once babies can lift up their heads, they’ll push up using their arms and arch their back to lift up the chest. These movements help strengthen the upper body and are in preparation for sitting up. They may also rock while on their stomachs, kick their legs, and swim with their arms. These movements are necessary for rolling over and crawling. By the end of this period, babies should be able to roll over from stomach to back and back to stomach and maybe are able to sit without any support.
By age 4 months, babies can easily bring toys to their mouth. They use their fingers and thumb in a claw-like grip to pick up objects. Because at this age babies will instinctively explore objects by putting them in their mouths, it is important to keep small objects out of reach to prevent accidental swallowing. By age 6-8 months, they can transfer objects from hand to hand, turn them from side to side, and twist them upside down. Babies also discover their feet and toes during this stage.
Babies’ broadening range of vision is apparent as they concentrate and focus on objects and follow movements. Babies at this age like increasingly complex patterns and
shapes. They also like looking at themselves in a mirror. They continue to babble, but now they raise and lower their voices as if asking a question or making a statement.

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Lesson No 2. Baby Milestones.
In our last lesson, we explained what the 1 to 3 months is all about.
Today we list the skills the baby is expected to have achieved.

Motor Skills
 Supports the head and upper body when on stomach
 Stretches out legs and kick when on stomach or back
 Opens and shut hands  Brings hands to mouth  Grabs and shakes hand toys  Swipes and bats at dangling objects
 Pushes down legs when on a flat surface
 Follows moving objects with eyes
 Turning their head to face the stimulus

Language Skills
 Makes cooing sounds
Social/Emotional Skills
 Smiles at familiar faces
 Enjoys playing with other people.

In our next lesson, we will cover the next milestone.
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Today we start on our first topic on Childcare. As a mum, it is very important that you become aware of these milestones. By so doing you are also able to teach your baby minder about the milestones and what is expected out them. You can share the lessons with your baby minder because the information is better when shared hey. Our first milestone is 1 to 3 months.
At 1-3 months of age, babies begin the transformation from being a totally dependent newborn to becoming an active and responsive infant. Many of the newborn reflexes are lost by this age. A baby’s vision changes dramatically; s/he becomes more aware and interested in his/her surroundings. The human face becomes more interesting, as do bright, primary-colored objects. A baby might follow a moving object, recognize familiar things and people at a distance, and start using his/her hands and eyes in coordination. At this age, babies usually turn toward familiar voices and smile at their parent’s faces or other familiar faces. They also begin to coo (make musical vowel sounds, such as ooo or aaa). The neck muscles become stronger during these first few months. At first, babies can only hold their heads up for a couple of seconds while on their stomachs. The muscles are strengthened each time the head is held up. By 3 months of age, babies lying on their stomachs can support their heads and chests up to their forearms. Arm and hand movement develops fast during this stage. What was once a tight, clenched fist is now an open hand grabbing and batting at objects. Babies explore their hands by bringing them in front of their face and putting them in their mouths.
For our next lesson, we will share the baby’s skills at 1 to 3 months.

A few days ago i laughed my lungs out watching a video by one local celebrity depicting the domestic work scenario. In this particular segment, the maid wakes up and takes her laundry outside. Whilst in the middle of washing, she then suddenly remembered it was a public holiday. She immediately downs her tools, there and there and goes straight to her servants quarters to sleep. The boss decides to go outside only to find the abandoned laundry. As she searches for her maid, she finds her neatly tucked in bed , claiming that it is an abomination for her to work on a public day.

I was reminded of this video today when one maid asked me when she is allowed to get leave because she never gets leave days. As the holidays draw near, most maids are not sure to be happy or to be sad. One lady was saying that her boss actually told her that they need her more during the festive season. I wondered whether bosses realize that maids also have families that need them during Christmas. Our generation is now full of lazy women that can not function without domestic help. We can not cook, feed or bath our own children. With all the technology to help us we still struggle, yet our mothers survived on less. Our grandmothers even had less privileges , many children but still managed to raise all 11 children single handled.

Holidays are for everyone, for all employees , the maids included. The sad thing is most employers do not even give them adequate off days or leave days during the year but still want them to work during the Christmas holidays. Please, allow the maids time with their families but importantly their bodies need rest too. This is the time to plan alternative domestic solutions. Allow the usual maid to rest during the festive period , if you need extra help, get a temporary maid. Should you really really need your usual maid, then be willing to compensate her through overtime payment or allow her to go on holiday after Christmas.

Holidays are for everyone….maids included.

There is a saying in our Shona language that says n’anga haizvirapa. Directly translated it simply means that a traditional healer can never cure them-self. This means that sometimes no matter how good you are with something, at times you can lose in that field. This reminds me of Prophets with crippled children or scientists who die of illness. Only a few days ago, i was again reminded of this phrase. It was on Friday evening when i arrived from work. I was resting waiting to proceed to church for an evening event. My maid then summoned me and announced that her family had called her home so that she reconciles with her husband. You see, when i employed her, she was separated from her husband and desperate for a job. Now she wanted to get back together with her husband and she wanted to leave immediately. With my two kids and a hectic program , surely how could she say immediately. I rightly told her that she could not leave that very moment because i was leaving for church. I told her she could only leave in the morning. The following morning by 6 am she was up and knocking on my bedroom door to say bye.I wished her well and i did not bother to search her bags as is done by most. Before, i could even turn and continue with my winter sleep, i heard her ask for her salary!!!! Seriously, it was just a week into a new month and only 8 hours had passed since her notifying me of her wanting to leave. With the money problems in the country did she really expect me to have cash on me at that moment. Although, i am conversant with the labour laws, at that particular moment i really appreciated the signing of contracts. An employment contract states the notice period upon termination of contracts. So many maids resign unceremoniously and when you need them the most. I ended up going with my kids to work on this day. A contract serves both the employer and the employee. I am a maid specialists but i also get disappointed by maids. N’anga haizvirapi . Till then God bless.

My 3 year old princess is such a beautiful soul. She brightness the darkest of days. She is her own person and is as feist as ever. With her, i totally understand what it means to be a mother. From her, i am even sorry of all the troubles i have ever caused my mother. But hold on, truth be told , my daughter is just a little terrorist. No one sleeps before she sleeps and once she wakes up, everyone must also wake up. She fights with her 5 year old brother and can give Jonh Cena a run for his trade. My mother enjoys it when she terrorizes me and always says she is a replica of me as a baby. In a way, karma is working its way on me. Punishing me for being a hard toddler who always troubled her grandmother. I was partially raised by my grandmother, mhdsrip, whilst mummy was at school. The old lady loved me too bits to the extent that my mother felt sorry for her. However, the thing that i can never truly understand with my daughter is in my absence she is a total angel. Is she conspiring with my own mother to punish me for my baby evils? With such a child , it is easy to push her towards others so they handle her. This is the dilemma of many modern women with their pampered princesses and princes. They are so privileged and entitled and rarely get the traditional beatings. Maybe, and only maybe,these kids are spoilt and know it. A tired mom gets back from work after a long day with a difficult boss, yes i have heard those also. All you want to do is rest but the terrorist will not allow you. You just call out to Aunty to take her away. Slowly it becomes a routine, until our maids know how to handle our kids. Until Aunty understands our own children better than we do. Until our children rely more on Aunty than on mummy. Aunty becomes the childrens’ mothere. Aunty knows how to get her to eat, how to get her to sleep, her favourite cartoon and Aunty knows it all…..but really, whose child is it anywhere?

Over the past, the debate has on what to call our domestic workers. I stuck to the name maid and sincerely rubbished the term helper and i stand like that. Today i had one client who was interviewing a potential maid and was not happy when she kept on calling her sister….sisi in our native language. I guess she was offending because the term sisi is used for relations and people that consider themselves peers. To make the matters worse, the maid is older than the madam so the madam then felt she will be disrespected at a latter stage. SIsi is also a term that we used to call the maids back in the 90s’. All ana sis where usually maids, so maybe the client had a reason to worry after all. This got me thinking, what do the bosses want the maids to call them?? I later went on to my ladies and asked them how they address their bosses. The responses where interesting. The none black bosses want to be called by their names, Mendy , Chipo, James!!! That in our culture is a taboo, you never call the elders (age or position) by name. This means in no household will you find a maid addressing their boss by their name. Well not in my house,my kids are not even allowed to call me by my name!!! Most maids then call their bosses mum or dad.This is the common address and it also makes the bosses feel superior i guess. Culturally, one can be called by their first childs’ name, Mai Tako or Baba Tako. This is also widely accepted and is used by bosses that do not want that intimacy with their maid or those that are younger than their maids.It is also best as most women are not comfortable with maids calling their husbands daddy (a story for another day!!!).Then there is this group of bosses that prefer calling their maid relations. In Zimbabwe , everyone is related in someway , by totem or by rural background. I am even related to my husband!! His grandfather and my grandmother share the same totem and i also share the same totem with his grandmother. I am therefore his wife and his grandmothers sister kkkkkk, yes it is complicated like that and it works. It is not rare then to find a maid being called mainini or tete or sisi in a home with her responding in similar fashion. What does your maid call you? How did it come to that? How do you prefer it? I prefer being called mama just do not ask me what my husband is called!!!!

This past week has been an eye opener or rather a reminder. I have come to realize that there are two types of maids based on their background. I interviewed three women who made me thinking about the kind of maids we had. One had very good O Level passes whilst another had A Levels. The other one was already in school taking a course in baking. They where all however looking for employment as maids.It then seriously dawned on me that domestic work is never a first choice employment but rather a last resort solution to a problem. So many maids, if not all where forced by circumstances to search for this type of work. Rarely do we find someone growing up and dreaming of becoming a maid. May be in developed countries but for us Africans no.Domestic work is considered a low class job for uneducated, poor and desperate people. It is because of mindset that employers abuse their workers. Most workers allow this because they are surely desperate. However, there is emerging a new crop of domestic workers who have resigned themselves to be domestic workers for life. Despite how they became maids they now have decided it will be their profession. This is mostly with the mature uneducated woman. They do not even dream of having any other job but are very comfortable as maids.For them it is the only job that they qualify for. On the other hand there is the young and still planning maids. One that has been orphaned, a school dropout or a child marriage victim. This one becomes a maid so that the job pushes them to their next step step in life. The job becomes a fundraising stepping stone for them as they also want to purse other avenues in life. The story is however not the same ,some have good education but no career guidance hence we see an educated maid in the home. Knowing one maids’ background can help someone understand them better.During an interview ask them their past and also their future plans. Also not every maid is uneducated, no. As an employer it is also good to encourage your maid to develop themselves. There is a going maid or a stay maid. No your maid. Till then God bless.