Monday, 17 October 2016

Thatcher and You - Is she your House maid, Your house help or Your House Mate? Listen to Rachel Acha in Story I,

Women are more and more involved in development recently that the payrolls of many companies are filled with more women single and married than men. The demands for domestic and official duties becomes very hectic and demanding for these women, who in turn hire domestic staff for running of their homes.

Some women completely abandon their house running to their maids, who controls virtually everything in the house, even their husbands.

Other women turn their maids into domestic slaves and punching bags, because they know that most of these poor girls do not have backups as they come from remote areas, where there are no jobs, and their parents can't send them to school.

We shall be meeting ten of these girls, who tells us the good, the bad and the ugly sides of their profession.

Girl 1: Meet Rachel ACHA 19 years, who tells her story:

I was excited when Aunti Ijang came to the village to inform me that we shall be travelling to the  big city together, because her colleague needed a home resident maid.

I had finished primary seven at the Government Primary School Batibo two years before, passed list A in the Common Entrance, and scored high in the First School Leaving Certificate. My father died when I was just five years old, and my mother was the only support for me and my twin brother Gerald, Miyang my elder sister and my kid brother Ngang.

Aunti Ijang said her colleague would send me to the evening section of the secondary school immediately I start work, and that my monthly salary will be 10.000F CFA (20$).

My mother and other siblings were very happy and we thanked God for such an opportunity. I promised my mother I will be of my best behavior, and left with my aunt on the 14th of August that year.

I was 17 years old when I left the village, and was so excited to go to the big city of Douala for my first time. 

We arrived my aunt's house on the 15th at 6 a.m, and the sight of the beautiful houses in the city, the ships I saw when we were crossing the Wouri bridge, made me believe I was abroad.

I promised myself that I will work very hard at home and in school so that when am older, I will have enough money to bring my mother and siblings to the city.

At about 6.p.m that day, a lady came to my aunt’s house and they chatted for long, before my aunt called me in, introduced the lady to me and said hence she will be my madam.

The lady carried me in her car and we went to her house in the executive quarter Bonamoussadi.

While in the car, she asked me everything about my family and when I told her, she promised that I will never regret staying with her. 

Once in her compound, she asked me to carry my bag, and as we entered into the living room she presented me to her household as the new nanny and maid. She had three children, of 3 years, 5 years and 8 years respectively.

She took me into a square room, with an old flat foam on the floor and told me that would be my room. It wasn’t bad at least because in the village we slept on empty bamboo beds in the kitchen. The next day was a Saturday and my madam was not working. 

Her husband is a Judge and she  a Custom Officer. 

She gave me my job description together with an endless list of dos and don'ts. She spent the whole day, teaching me everything I was to be doing.

Being a fast learner, I quickly adapted to my job, and automatically became a home robot.

My madam (mummy) was lazy and very dirty as well. She will dump her dirty undies and that of her husband for me to wash. Even during her period, she will force me to wash her blood stained pants and cloths.

It was still holidays, but my day started at 5:00 am and ended at 11 P:M from Mondays to Sundays.

I obeyed all mummy's rules to the letter, and where I made a mistake she will insult me, curse my widowed mother and call me all sort of names. I ignored everything she did or said to make me angry, because my focus was my future.

Schools reopened, and the tasks doubled. I had to take the kids to the pick up point at the road and wait for their bus at 6:40 a.m., after I had bath them, fed them, prepared their lunch boxes and dress them. When they were gone, I will rush back home and take care of mummy and daddy.

We cooked a variety of soup over the weekend and put in the deep freezer, to serve for a whole week.

Each morning before going out, mummy will remove the dish of the day, and I will cook the compliment. She left the house at 8:15 a.m, and only then will I go to the market, buy the compliment of the day.

If she gives me 2000 Frs (4$) for cocoyam, plantains or whatever compliment I was to cook, I will bargain with the market women and buy for 1800 Frs. The remaining 200 Frs, I will buy beignet and ginger juice and eat in the market. That is how I ate breakfast.

At 12:45 mummy will call the home phone and instruct me to heat the soup and cook the compliment. When I finish in the kitchen, I will rush to the roadside to wait for the school bus to bring the kids and take them back home. She called every 3:30 p.m to make sure that I had fed the children and put them to siesta. That is when she will authorize me to eat.

When mummy and daddy returned from work I will warm and serve their food, wash their cars that night and wait for them to sleep before I go to bed

I had lost weight, and my aunt never came to check on me. I began worrying because it was already December, and nobody was telling me anything about my school.

I bold up courage and asked mummy one evening in the presence of daddy about when I was to start school. She scolded me, and asked  how long I have worked that I wanted to go to school. She said if my wretched village mother knew that education was important, she would not have sent me to come and finish up all the food in her house.

That night I cried my tears to the God of orphans and slept till 6:30 am the next day. I jumped up when someone poured a bucket of ice cold water on me. It was mummy she screamed at the top of her voice and dragged me outside with insults and slaps. I knew I was wrong, and the kids were to be late for school because I had overslept and begged her for forgiveness.

It was daddy who came to my rescue that morning and then mummy angrily went to the kitchen to help fix the lunch boxes for the kids, while I bathe and dressed them up.

That morning they ate their breakfast in the bus because they were late. In the evening mummy called my aunt to come to our house, and told her all sorts of stories about me. Aunti Ijang did not even want me to talk and said that if she hears anymore complains she will post me back to the village.

Things continued to grow worst for me, but I persevered because each time I asked my money from mummy she gave without complain (at least she was good at that one). After my first year in the city, I sent 100.000 FCFA (200$) to the village, out of my pay, and hid the rest.

On my 19th birthday I informed my new parents, because they celebrated the birthdays of everyone in the house. Daddy was at home and so he gave me some money to buy chicken and fry for myself and the kids. He authorized me to sit in the dining and eat, when mummy entered. She thundered in anger at the sight of me eating with her family on the dinning, took my plate of food and threw to the dog.

Daddy got upset and slapped her in front of us all, stamping out of the house in anger.

When he left mummy beat the living daylight out of me, rained hard insults on me, spat on me shouting that I have carried my rotten smelling body to come and infect her living room. That I smelled like a bush dog and all sorts of terrible things she said.

Thank God the next day was a Saturday, so everyone was at home. I fell seriously sick all night, and didn’t know who to call. I was afraid that I might die. I couldn’t leave my room. My entire body ached and there was blood clot in my eyes from mummy's slaps. 

In the morning, I heard her shouting Rachel, Rachel, Rachel, I couldn’t answer because my voice was choked in pains and fever, and then she started her insults again and bashed opened my door with her hand lifted up to hit me, when daddy came from behind and held her.

Daddy asked me to go and shower and he took me to a nearby health center, where I spent almost four days on admission. Upon discharge, mummy threatened that she will deduct all she had spent on my salary and that I will see the consequences of sitting in her dining..

I persevered all through, because my family back home needed financial assistant.

One evening mummy called to say she was attending a friend’s wake keeping service and that she won’t be coming home early. Daddy was at home and after the children had gone to bed, he bolted all the doors and invited me to the living room. He told me how hardworking I was and how he was sorry for the wife’s attitude towards me.

Before I could say a word he started kissing and undressing me and all I could feel in my struggle was his 125kg weight on me as he tore into my intimacy, raped and took away my virginity.

He threatened me that night and forbade me to tell anybody, giving me 50.000F CFA (100$).

I was shocked and in pains, but unable to scream as he gave me some tablets to swallow after the act and promised that if I remained a good girl by sealing my lips, he would send me to school.

He started coming back home early enough, at  times even before the kids close from school, and we did it time and time again.

I became very weak and pale from being daddy's sex plough and mummy's home robot.

Then my condition changed, and I became very sick. After medical examinations, I was declared pregnant.

Mummy called my aunt, and together they beat  out the devil in me until I fainted. They threatened to lock me up if I didn't tell them the author of my pregnancy.

A date was fixed to take me back to the village, and then I picked courage, told daddy I will blow the whistle because I was dying. He begged me on his knees talking about his reputation, his marriage that will be at stake,  and then promised to give me the sum of 500.000F CFA (1000$), which he did while asking me to abort the pregnancy, and use the balance to pay my fees or go back to my village and start any petty trade.

I ran away from the house with everything I had, and at the time of telling my story, I am still pregnant, and confused on whether  I should go back to the village or rent a house here, since I have this money on me.

I intend to write a letter to mummy telling her I was not only her maid, but also her mate, to make her cry for maltreating me. But what about daddy, whom I love already?. What should I do?

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