Tears, panic, desperation and chest pains have rocked many households in Kenya as the current transfer window of house helps closes, with many househelps opting to cut ties with their employers.
Reports indicate that most househelps have opted to cut off their toxic employers, leaving over 240,000 families stranded with no sense of order or direction in the households. This is after most of them travelled home for Christmas holidays with no plans to come back ahead of school reopening.
Interview with several employers revealed the extent of the crisis.
“We have been in Maasai Mara for ten days and that little girl travelled to Shamakhokho and seems she does not plan to come back. I have tried calling, sweet talking, threatening, sending them fare, paying them in advance, calling their parents, increasing their salary and even reducing their workload, but she has refused to come back. This is criminal.”
Another victim cannot stomach a house without help. “How can she refuse to come back? I do not even know where the school uniforms are and we have been ordering food from Uber Eats since she left. This is not sustainable. I am going to sue!”
One employer even wondered how a 16 year old girl with little education can hold the family hostage yet she earns KShs 2700 per month. “It is very disrespectful because now I have to temporarily hire somebody to assist with house work during the day at a cost of KShs 1000 per day. This is something that the government should look into. We should have a law compelling house helps to come back after Christmas break, otherwise the country will plunge into anarchy.”
Interviewed, most househelps had little regret for the no show. Research had already shown that househelps work in very toxic environments and most of them are in the industry because they have no other option. Once they get an opportunity to visit home and they taste life without condescending, get an opportunity to be served, enjoy fresh air and even eat proteins, they realize that there is more to life than money, and never go back.
The small monies that they earn also contribute to the no show January. “I get paid KShs 3000 per month and the fare to home and back is KShs 6000. I also have to travel over Easter holiday, and possibly one more time for a funeral or something else. I spend 18,000 on fare annually and I earn 36000. I may not be good in math but that is definitely bad math.”
With their trusted househelps not coming back, many families will have to work on temporary plans, where they will get another househelp whom they will abuse until December, and the cycle repeats itself. The challenge is that it will take six months before the new househelps learn how to make proper tea.
It will be a rough January.