Almost all the 267,000 househelps working in Kenyan households have termed their work environments toxic and dysfunctional.
The domestic workers who play a critical role in running of the country have ended up getting the short end of the stick as their employers who are always complaining about their working conditions perpetuate the same conditions in their houses.
“Incessant fighting and complains make it hard for us to work objectively. Sometimes you have to be the mediator and the voice of reason in the midst of childish arguments between the family members. When the dust settles, you go back again to your default position where you are ranked slightly lower than the family cat.”
“It’s is very demeaning when you have to take instructions from everybody including a spoilt six-year-old brat. We are never allowed to exercise our cognitive faculties while at work. Can you imagine a work situation where you have to take instructions from everybody and you cannot give your opinion in a healthy manner because you are considered inconsequential?”
The issue of remuneration also featured prominently. Many househelps know that they are paid not based on the value of their work, but the desperateness of their situation. “Once your employer knows that you are a first born in a family of six, and they are all jobless or in school, your goose is cooked. They know that you will settle for anything.”
Delayed salaries and lack of allowances in the midst of increasing responsibilities was also cited by many as a reason of their dissatisfaction. Those who have worked for long in one place have seen the families grow from two members to 5 members, laundry increase fivefold, houses change from one bedroomed to four, but the salaries remain the same. “We may not understand the concept of inflation but having the same salary for 7 years does not make sense.”
Middle Class Nonsense
“We even have families that insist on speaking Swahili only in the house. Never mind that both parents are Maragolis and the family lives in Kawangware. Even the children are 102% Maragolis judging from the way they deconstruct kienyeji chicken and their preference for gigantic cups when taking tea. With the househelp being a Maragoli, what is the point of speaking only Swahili in the house?
In other households, the househelp has to serve food, feed the baby, supervise the little ones eating while at the same time ensuring the adults have easy access to the salad. After everyone eats, she has to clear the tables and clean the dishes and eat at the same time. By then, there are no proteins remaining in the house – only piles of bones.
“Based on what we see in many homes, there is no difference between how this country is run and how families run. We are at the same level. Yet these employers think they are the best people on the planet and possible candidates to join the Trinity. Why would you think there is anything good about you when you have had nine househelps in the last 2 months. Can all of them be evil?”
Have a good day, toxic employers.