Sunday, 12 January 2014

House Keepers

Since being in Indonesia I have always had access to a maid or housekeeper. As a teacher living in a teachers house there was a maid who did all the work and we just slept and ate there. Then when I moved to my apartment I could have used Yovitas maid if I wanted but I choose not too as I am very capable of doing stuff on my own.
When I moved to Mampang, Yovitas maid would stay over at the weekend and sort things out and once married she stayed with us permanently. However it was during the time where I was not married that my house was burgled and everything was stolen. At this time it made me realise that a maid or house keeper is essential to living in a house here if you are working all the time because the house needs to be kept occupied to keep unwanted attention away. Being western and living in Jakarta in a 'non expat' area you are constantly watched and the house is under local surveillance all day and night long, comforting and worrying at the same time.
So once we were married Yovitas maid moved in and we stayed with us until Jeremy was born in 2013 and then left to look after her daughters who were coming to the city.
Most maids or housekeepers are from dots on the map, from villages or towns across the country where there is nothing. No employment other than working in the fields or forests for next to nothing, limited access to education and no real future. So they come to Jakarta and work in houses cleaning, washing etc and earning more but working just as hard for their employer. 
So when our first maid left, we decided we needed to have a house keeper rather than a maid or nanny with the main purpose to make sure the house was occupied, however, with the arrival of Jeremy the role turned to something bigger and that was housekeeper and baby sitter. 
The next  housekeeper to arrive was called Nani and she stayed with us for about 3 months and was really useful and helpful and trustworthy (which is key) and then she decided to quit to go back to the village to look after her children.
This sent us into a panic but luckily we had some help and found another maid called ooh-um and she was strange. Mainly because she was in her 30's and had been married 3 times already, since being 14 and had several children she had never seen. So with all that in her past, she began worrying us almost immediately and within 3 weeks of being with her, we let her go because she was she was acting weird and the house was a mess. Luckily Nani had made contact asking to come back to work with us because she needed to work to pay for her children's schooling. We said yes.

Housekeepers do not get paid a lot of money, they have little legal status and are often abused because of that. 1 day off a month and limited cash normally less than a million a month for salary, out of which, food and phone credit etc has to be bought. We however are a more fair and pay a good wage (not telling you here) with a daily food allowance and 2 days off a month plus when we are home, then they are not really needed to do much unless asked, so in truth a lot of down time. Looking after Jeremy is hard work and we acknowledge that and so that is why we pay more and give them more time off. Our housekeeper normally finishes her duties around 6.30pm.

2 days before New years eve, Nani asked permission to go home and spend New Year with her children back in her village to which we agreed. On he first of January Yovita finds out that she has no desire to return and then never spoke to us again, leaving us high and dry with no housekeeper. Great.

When this happens, Yovita has to take time from work and I will as well because Jeremy needs to be looked after as does the house. Again, luckily Yovitas brother knew of someone was looking to be a house keeper and so a deal was struck. 

This one was called Ainan and she was 16 and had already spent 2 years working as a maid somewhere. We had to pay a few people who helped and so come Sunday she was on the house and things were hopefully going to be OK again. However, it turned out that she had people pushing her to get more money and using her to earn more money, moreover one of these people came to the house and confronted Yovita asking form more money. He was told very nicely I am sure to go away and he did. It was time to get another housekeeper.

So we now have Tia who resigned from another place because she was being paid very little and her salary was 3 months in arrears. Yovita did the negoiating and agreed terms and so now here we are. I am hoping that she will stay at least the year to make it easy for us all. Time will tell.

We could have gone to an agent to make this less painful but there is no guarantee that the maid supplied will be any better, you have to pay them a consultancy fee and then there are other issues as well. So sourcing locally seems to be better for us.

So getting a housekeeper who can wash, clean, baby sit, not leave after 3 months, is honest, trustworthy and then keeping them is a challenge and not as easy as some might have you believe.

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