What is it like not to have a maid at home? This was one of the many questions I asked the different women who attended the Full Woman magazine parenting seminar that took place at Hotel Africana on March 29.
One of them, Karen Nakimbugwe Zziwa, narrated how she is always overwhelmed having to do the housework all by herself after leaving office late in the evening. She is usually at home at about 8pm after a strenuous day at work. Tired, she heads straight to the bedroom to change into a more casual outfit before starting on the chores around the house.
“If there are any dirty utensils in the sink that I failed to wash during the morning hours, I clean them, then continue to tidy up the house,” she says. Zziwa will then bath her two children, aged three and five, before helping them out with homework. “Then I can go ahead to prepare a simple meal for my family and take a shower later before retiring to bed. I normally go to bed around midnight, very tired,” she says.
And the cycle continues with her getting up at around 5am to prepare the children for school, and herself for work.
Such is Zziwa’s life almost every day. Her reason for not having any help around the house is that she has failed to find someone trustworthy to entrust her household with, not much different from Stella Wanene’s reason.
Wanene says she cannot hire a maid because she has issues trusting them. “I cannot possibly bring someone that I hardly know to stay in my house. What if she steals my property or even decides to sleep with my husband? I can’t,” Wanene makes her point. She may seem extreme, but Wanene has a point as maids have been reported to do all sorts of things, some worse than stealing or jumping into the madam’s bed.
Hiring a maid may ease the workload at home but it does not come without any pains. Stories abound of maids mistreating babies, not mastering their chores and generally causing as much headache as the help they bring to a woman’s life.
Counselling psychologist, Lois Ochieng, however, believes that these headaches can be minimised by hiring the right maid for your needs and knowing how to handle her.
So, are you choosing the right maids to work for you?
At the hiring stage
Ochieng says there are a number of things homeowners must put into consideration if they want the right kind of person working in their home. “The first thing you must do is carry out an extensive interview with her. Do it as if you are questioning an applicant for a real job,” she advises.
Some of the things to ask include her family and education background, expectations, how long she is willing to do the work, the amount of salary she wants to be paid as well as some details about her previous work place.
“There is always an indication of what to expect from this person during the interview process. If she, for example, bad-mouthes her former employer, you know she will do the same with you,” explains Ochieng.
She adds; “Create a document called a bio data which will contain all these details including her name, a recommendation letter from the LC1 of her home area, age, sex as well as the telephone number of her next of kin.”
The importance of having all these details is that they enable the employer to trace for a maid who runs away from home after committing a crime such as stealing property, child kidnapping and even murder. This will help against incidences of the maid disappearing in thin air. They will think twice if they know you know where they come from.
The medical aspect
During his presentation, Dr Vincent Karuhanga of Friends Polyclinic and Air Ambulance, emphasised the need for home owners to take newly employed house helps for different medical checkups.
“Have them tested for sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and other ailments like tuberculosis, fungal infections, rashes and ringworms, Hepatitis B and pregnancy,” he says.
It is true also that in Uganda, the workplace HIV/Aids policy is a non-discriminatory one given the stigmatisation the disease carries.
This, therefore, means that one’s HIV status should not factor into whether they get the job or not. “But in reality it is dangerous to employ someone whose status you do not know.