In Nigeria, the trend of employing domestic helps is fast becoming an eccentricity. As much as the outcome of having them has brought some sort of financial stability to the young girls and their parents, it also brought about stench of regrets to some of the families that employ the help of these sets of people.
New Telegraph observed that with the apparent danger that comes with having domestic workers of which employers are aware of, they still employ these domestic helps, the increasing danger is enough to get one worried when away at work.
Most of the domestic helps come from either Cotonou or Benin republic while some others are Nigerian citizens whose parents cannot cater for or are grown enough to get such jobs themselves.
Reports gathered revealed that even after being bitten by some mischievous conducts of these maids, families still find them useful and are always still in need of them in high demands especially in Lagos state where parents are so busy with career that they need a steady hand to watch over their children while they are at work and have little or no choice but to constantly collect domestic helps. For some employers it is because their children have grown up and they need somebody to help them, also keep their company.
New Telegraph spoke to some employers of domestic workers on the reasons for employing maids and what their experiences are like.
Mrs. Grace Oboh, a shop owner and resident of Alagbado, axis of Lagos told New Telegraph that her children have all grown up and married, and her last child is in her mid twenties and goes out early for work, and for the fact that she owns a shop, she needs extra hands. She said she has had house maids and most times, they have always sold some of her goods without turning in the money, sometimes they even give them out to some of their friends in the neighborhood for free. It is just that they have become necessary evil for some of us. “Having domestic helps make things a bit easier, you are less lonely especially when your children have all grown up and age is not so much on your side.”
She continued that having a maid is not easy because it is like having a complete stranger in one’s home, a stranger with complete access to everything in your home including the food the whole family eats, your belongings and valuables which is often a very big gamble.
Despite the many headaches of employing the help of a maid, it hasn’t been a too pleasant experience for Oboh. She said Helen could go out for a week, thereby putting her family on the hot spot of looking for her. According to Oboh, Helen would be found in an uncompleted building where she hibernated with some area thugs. The most offensive for Oboh was the day she caught her maid right in the middle of the act of having sex with her boyfriend inside her shop. According to her, Helen with to the shop early in the morning with the aim of setting up the wares for the day but it was with a different motive.
The expected thing was for Oboh to send her away but she said truth is she cannot carry out all the house chores along with the stress of her shop. “Ordinarily, one would think I would have stopped taking domestic helps but the truth is one cannot do it all, it is not advisable for anyone to be alone in old age, that is why I still employ them regardless of how badly some of them behave.”
Another woman, Mrs Modupe Ario narrates her ordeal to New Telegraph. She said she decided to have house maids when her youngest daughter gained admission into the university in 2014 and from then, she has made it a habit of changing her domestic helps on yearly basis. She said, “there is a woman call mama-orobo, the woman is from Benin Republic, and she stays at Pako in Oke-afa, Isolo in Lagos state. Her business and mainstay is bringing girls from ages 13 and above from Benin Republic popularly called Cotonou in Nigeria every year to come who come to work as house girls in Lagos.
According to her, the domestic helps often come to work as from January as live in maids and they return by December to their country and return again in January and the cycle continues in that format. Sometimes the girls go back to the same family they served if they are willing and the family still wants them. Otherwise the family can go and pick up other girls from the same woman when they return. She said the last house girl she got early January this year stole her daughter’s money from her kolo(local piggy bank) without even breaking it.
Mrs Ariyo described her former house girl-Imoleayo, from Osun state, as a very warm 18-years-old. “Imole stayed for four months and acted like she was a saint until my daughter’s pant and clothes started missing. My daughter confronted her and she said she was not the one that took it. All evidence pointed otherwise because when my house maids come to my house for the first time, I check their belongings just to know what they have brought, so it will make it easy to know when they have started buying new things through stealing and when I checked, she had no white pant but three months later she had the same white pant that my daughter was looking for. The white pant was what she stole from my daughter’s room and some clothes which she had sold cheap at some local boutiques close to my house.
I begged my daughter to let it go and start locking up her room when she is living for work. Locking her room was hard because she was not doing so before. Imole was also using the money she stole to buy clothes from neighborhood boutiques; she was borrowing phones from people to call men. She was close to the same age as my daughter and she saw the kind of things she wore. I guess that made her covetous to the point of stealing the money my husband kept in the room to buy open heavens for the church.
All these things had been happening and I did not know, until my daughter broke her piggy bank one Friday and found only N6000 after saving for over two months. One would say she might not have stolen it but she is the only one at home and my daughter just put over N10,000 into the piggy bank on Monday of that same week..
After beating her and asking her to confess, she refused to confess but when I woke up the next day being Saturday, she had packed all her things and ran away, leaving my gate open. We called the agent to tell her what has happened and she really had little or nothing to do to help find her.”
Mrs. Opeyemi Olawale recapped her experience with some of her past maids. Mrs. Olawale is a working class lady in her early thirties. She has two daughters aged two and four. I have had cases where my house girl is exchanging numbers with my neighbours, even the gateman. She goes to them to collect phone to call her boyfriends because I did not allow her to use phones. She was very wayward, stubborn and incorrigible. Honestly, with that girl in my house, I never had a moment of peace. Most times, I was scared she would run away with my children. I always called my gateman and neighbours constantly to know what is going on. I must say having ‘house maids’ is sometimes very agonising, sometimes my neighbours would tell me she brought a boy home but when I confront her she will say it is a lie. After a while, I sent her away, got another girl but that one too had her problems. She became the boss of the house and barely followed instructions; she started doing chores at her own time prompting my husband to beat her sometimes.
It has always been and is still God’s grace dealing with house maids. One must always be at alert because being too busy and unavailable gives those wings to start misbehaving and maltreating one’s children, they are a necessary evil like my mother says.”
Another parent, Mrs Remi Hassan said, because her mother has grown old, and age is not on her own side, she employs house helps that will take care of her aging mother while she juggles responsibilities of being a wife to her ailing husband.
She also said that employing house girls has become an integral part of family life in Lagos. Meanwhile, she explained that maids are two sides of a coin, they are very useful and dangerous too but the ‘No Choice slang’ is why the domestic helps keep finding their ways to most homes.
She also said, indirectly the people that employ house helps are often helping the young girls, since many of them are from poor families and the salary they earn they use it to fend for themselves and give some to their families.
DOMESTIC HELPS VIEW
New Telegraph interviewed some house maids and they told their story on how they are being treated at home.
Folakemi Obong, a 17 year old girl told New Telegraph that where she used to work, her boss used to tap her bum-bum. She said, “I was working for one madam in Lekki, the woman had three children who were still small. The children were very stubborn and insult me freely for my bad language. When they go to school, I used to follow my madam to her shop where she sells Lace. I used to work very hard there but she complained too often. One day I went to pack some things from my madam’s car and I had to get the key from the husband, he followed me to the car, opened the boot for me and when I bend over to get the things from the boot, he tapped my back side. He was doing that until I told my madam but she couldn’t believe it. She was just shouting at me, after a while I told the woman that brought me to her that I was no longer interested in working for the family, I ran back to my agent and she sent me to the village where I went to be doing sales girl at a beer parlor with some of my friends. Sincerely, any time I remember what he was trying to do, I always fill like I should have injured him before I left.”
Another young lady, a 23 year old Esther said her boss beats her up for smacking his children when they misbehave. She said the children will be very calm in the afternoon when no one is home but immediately their dad or mum comes back, they start to act like they are possessed, they hit me and stone me but I cannot complain because my opinion does not matter so what I do is to beat them in the afternoon to assuage her feelings for their ugly attitude at night.”
According to the Police Public Relations officer, Lagos State command, Chike Oti, it is very important to carry out a background check as it helps authenticate any information supplied by any domestic worker.
Mr. Ubani Chigozie, a seasoned security expert said, from the angle of safety and security, “one has to do serious profiling, a thorough background check of the person you want to hire is needed. There are some agencies that do profiling. So, we need to do a background check on the individual which should reveal whether such persons have records of criminal, sexual or drug abuse tendencies and offence.
He also advised employers/parents to pay attention to their physical appearance, “check out the appearance of how the individual you are about to hire dresses, if you realise you cannot live with such person’s personality, they shouldn’t bother so that that person does not become a bad influence to your children.”
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