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'EMPLOYERS FROM HELL'

The hidden lives of ‘housegirls’ in Kenya

The hidden life of a house-help

In Summary

• The influx of Uganda girls come to Kenya for house help jobs.

• Employers are taking advantage of the situation.

Domestic worker made to work for long hours
Domestic worker made to work for long hours
Image: COURTESY

In Uganda, women as young as 17 years are migrating to Kenya to find housemaid jobs.

Esther 21, told the BBC “House help jobs in Uganda only pay Sh800 per month which is not enough to fend for our needs so we migrate to Kenya for the currency is stronger against the Ugandan currency.”

The BBC Africa Eye reveals how on arrival in Nairobi, the girls find accommodation in informal settlements, several of them decide to share a house to cost share on costs.

 
 
 

Esther now in Nairobi knocking door to door looking for a maid job says she leaves with her three Ugandan friends and each pays Sh500 per month for the house.

“We leave three girls each paying Sh500 per month on this corrugated iron sheet house with no electricity. We share one mattress,” she says.

Esther works in a restaurant from 6 am to 6 pm for little pay.

“I walk for a long distance to work for they don’t pay me enough,” she says.

She says there is so much insecurity where she leaves. Their house was robbed off some days back.

“Where will we go? We just have to stay here, it's cheaper ”she says.

Esther’s roommate Racheal who is a house-help says she does not get food from her employer.

 
 

‘BAD CONDITIONS’

Edith Murogo who works for the centre of domestic training and development told the British broadcaster that the abundance of girls looking for jobs is making employers take advantage of their situation.

“Domestic workers are a special group of people for the conditions they work under. They are confined. They are not allowed to leave the employers house. They work in slavery condition,” Murogo says.

The organisation plans to sponsor 17-year-old Scovia who worked as a house help before the police found her without documentation and were deported.

 “I am an orphan. I always desired to read so I left Uganda came to Kenya to find a job as a housekeeper. The employer mistreats you and sometimes beats you if you do not comply with her rules.”

They now ask the employers to treat them as normal people for they did not choose to be poor and needy.

“We are people like our employers. We have the same needs. They should treat us with dignity,” Esther says.

‘TENSION’

Meanwhile, the influx of girls migrating from Uganda to Nairobi looking for housemaid jobs is making life difficult for local house helps.

The girls come in illegally, they are desperate and can take any amount of money.

One Kenyan domestic worker  tells BBC,” Employers now prefer Ugandan workers for they accept low wages and don’t travel back to Uganda often .”

She says employers now pay locals very low wages because the Ugandan ladies are setting the bar too low.