Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Lately there has been a surge in miss-deeds by domestic helps, you hear cases of house helps kidnapping the children they had sworn to protect, cater for and help train; you see drivers connive with armed robbers to steal from their bosses. Although this is not a new thing, it is safe to say that the rate of occurrence has greatly increased in recent times.


What changed actually?

We changed! By we, I mean the employers of labour. In the early days when the reason for domestic help was not just economic gains but partial adoption into the family, there was a greater level of commitment from the domestic helps. When they are taken in by their bosses, they are fed, clothed and treated like a part of the family.  They are sent to good schools or to skill acquisition centers to ensure they get adequately trained. By the time the domestic help is ready to leave, they have acquired enough education or training to make something out of their lives, there is thus limited envy and strife towards the host family. Today, things have changed.

We have stopped genuinely appreciating the services rendered by our domestic help. We look down on them as lesser people, treat them with disdain and when in public we are ashamed of them. We neither send them to good schools nor train them because that interferes with the purpose for which they have been hired. We forget that on a daily basis, we leave these helps with our most prized possessions, our children! Our domestic helps in most cases, wake up before we do, prepare our children for school, pack their lunch boxes, clean the house, do the laundry, prepare their lunch, feed them, help with their homework, play with them, bath them and get them ready for bed.  In exchange they are paid peanuts which cannot in anyway contribute significantly to creating a better life for them. Every day they look at our family and are reminded of the life they will never have. 

They begin to wonder, “if it’s just money am doing this for and I’m not even being paid well, why not look for a faster way to get this money”


How do we give intrinsic motivation?

It’s a known fact that intrinsic motivations are more powerful than extrinsic motivation but yet our domestic helps are offered only extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is simple and only requires a genuine appreciation of the effort our domestic helps put into making our lives easier. Treating them like you would your own kids, simple words of appreciation like, I love the way you sweep the home, thank you for helping junior with his assignment. When you buy things you share with them. A hug when necessary and a loving scold where necessary, do your best to take care of them so that you’ll be proud of them when you go out with them.

So take a step back today, say something good to that domestic help around you. This applies not only to the house helps but our drivers, the gateman at work, or the woman that sweeps your office. It gives them something money can’t buy and helps them look out for your own interest.

1 comment:

  1. Oyidia,I have a househelp who has been with me for the past 4 years. She is like a family now. Even though it is her decision not to go to school, she is learning hair dressing just few meters from my house. We sure still have many woman who do appreciate their helps.