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Are your children safe with the housemaid?

This reminds me of the time I once got a helper referred by my sister. She had travelled all the way from Gweru. I was still in Harare then, heavily pregnant with my middle son. She was a middle-aged woman, in her late 30s, dark and short originating from Zaka.

Have you heard of Zaka sories, ladies and gents? I shudder just to think of it.

I must say, the first night was terrible! I couldn’t sleep at all. I was scared stiff! We all survived the first night and as you have figured it out, all other nights.

I had not interviewed her, therefore, I had absolutely no information concerning her. One of the questions I used to ask when anyone started work was if they had any food allergies and If they suffered from any sickness. She was downright forthcoming about her HIV status and the fact that she was taking ARVS.

I had no qualms with her status as I had had 2 previous engagements with very close relatives living positively with HIV/AIDS. My first son was a little lesssthan a year old. I write this with regrets and I’m deeply saddened with how I treated him then. He was quite young. I was very inexperienced and overwhelmed by life. Trying to piece together our finances and truthfully speaking these should never have been excuses. We were always late with our rentals, thankfully,we had fantastic landlords.

As I write this, (my sisters know this) I still feel bad about my first few months after having my 2 boys. It was not easy. Life was not easy. Those in this country can confirm that this country feels sometimes a little like hell. We should all be given gold medals for staying here (in Oprah Winfrey’s voice); You get a medal! You get a medal, You get a medal! Everybody gets a medal!

… … I was a bit skeptical about it though. I mean, who hasn’t heard about maids abusing children? Who doesn’t know of a story about some maids feeding kids their menstruation blood or feeding them breast milk when she is HIV positive? All these thoughts reeled inside my head but I felt desperate enough to stay with her. I thought that I wouldn’t go anywhere so, I’d keep a close watch.

After a few days, I found her sitting in the kitchen crying…

I asked what the problem was, and she explained to me that I didn’t allow her to cook in the afternoon. We ate porridge in the morning, breakfast around 12 and had dinner at 6 p.m. I didn’t know that she wanted lunch also. That food was enough for me but not for her as she was on medication. After 2 weeks, I sent her packing. I just felt like she was really good at cleaning but negligent to my son as he used to cry after her, but she hadn’t warmed up to him and since two weeks had already passed, I didn’t see how that was going to change.

After her departure, I was approached by my neighbor. She told me how she had seen my maid beating up my son when I wasn’t around. To say that I was hurt is an understatement. My heart bled. I felt all sorts of rage and I didn’t know what to do as I had no evidence of this and didn’t know where to find her. The only thing I recall is that my son used to flinch and reacted weirdly whenever I pretended to beat him. I even asked my husband If he had noticed anything strange about this behavior. When we found out about this, I realized why he reacted that way. He thought that we wanted to beat him just like what the maid used to do.

At the moment, I work from home and I get to see everything that happens but it wasn’t like so back then.

Mistake 4

What to do:

1.Who said you can’t run a criminal check on the person you have employed? It’s quite easy. All you have to do is to take her to the police and get fingerprints of her and that’s it.
2.You can also ask for her ID and make a copy of it.
It would be really great If you could get a maid as a referral and If not then, ask her to give you her close relative’s phone numbers, addresses etc Don’t forget to call those people just to make sure they know her.
3.How about knocking off early one of the days, if not, then go to town and come back home immediately. Surprise the hell out of her! Get inside your house unannounced. Peep through the window if you have to. I should warn you though, do this moderately. You wouldn’t want people thinking that you have gone nuts!
4.During your free time, bath your own kids, spend time with them. Check how the child responds to the maid, if the relationship is still estranged after a few days then get a new one.
5.Lastly, get CCTV installed if you can afford it, If not buy the spy cameras and put it in their bedroom, lounge etc I have a friend who worked in a bank a couple of years ago who had one installed. She said she had the spy camera synced to her laptop and so could monitor everything from her workplace. (please watch out for these in my next blog)

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t claim to. I’m just one human trying to make sense of life as good as I can.

You won’t be completely helped though if you do not read the ultimate guide ,most read and wanted blog post if you do not click here. Infact bookmark this page because you sure going to need it in the future. 

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