Let’s face it, we all need help around the house. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, babysitting, you name it and you will find a woman needing it. Some wives are against the maid and nanny concept; they firmly believe in taking care of the children themselves and managing the spotless house while preparing the perfect meal for the husband.
I salute those capable of such chores in a country where dust is the air we breathe. However, there are thousands of housewives and working moms who just need a little help to get through their day without losing their sanity and still manage to look presentable with a smile on their faces at the end of it.
A first world problem? Maybe, but it’s the pink elephant in the room that many husbands have to acknowledge. Needless to add, not every woman has the luxury of staying home and providing for her family.
No need for judgments and clichéd quotes like, “Well, don’t have kids if you can’t take care of them”. Unless you’ve been in their shoes, you are not one to criticize. Most middle and upper class Arabs grow up with a housekeeper in their lives who might as well be considered family.
Well, unfortunately those days are over and done. The whole “finding a committed Egyptian girl” is considered rare nowadays. Brokers, or the girl’s parents themselves, creatively find ways to constantly force you to change maids, hence manipulating you into paying multiple commissions.
It is becoming a very successful business trend in Egypt, which leaves women searching for a more constant and stable help of higher quality (a myth by the way) – and that is where foreign maids and nannies come in.
Here are some struggles Egyptian women face after they make the fatal decision of hiring help:
It all begins when you start looking for that perfect girl who will turn your world upside down. You try local girls, hoping to be as lucky as your mom. You will either find one, be the envy of every woman you know, or become a victim of carelessness, thefts and sudden disappearances because of imaginary marriage proposals.
Almost everyone you know tells you that the starting salary rate is 400 USD, yet you still try to find someone who will settle for 350 USD, thinking you are smarter than the rest of us and an excellent negotiator. Then your denial phase ends and you accept the sad fact that most brokers in Egypt right now only take your phone calls at 450 USD/month, and just like that you are sucked dry.
Now that you finally find the perfect girl, you delude yourself into thinking you have actually bonded with her. Shortly, you start imitating your mother, gently commenting if the house isn’t thoroughly cleaned or if she isn’t listening to your instructions on how to clean the baby’s bottles. You would never think those small remarks would leave you nanny-less and maid-less, however due to the high hiring demand, they have become overly selective with no patience for nagging madams.
If your maid commits to you for more than six months, every woman you meet is jealous. Whenever you take her out, you make sure no strangers talk to her so she doesn’t get seduced by a better offer. It is actually funny how strangers corner nannies at clubs, slipping phone numbers into their pockets.
Soon, your nightmares will revolve around being dumped by her. You start believing that your life will be a chaotic mess, you will never find anyone like her, you just can’t suffer like everyone else, not after everything you taught her! And the minute she disappears on you, you turn into a psycho stalker, relentlessly calling, refusing to believe you are being dumped. My first experience with nanny dumping was more painful than my first breakup.
They tell you the most ridiculous excuses for missing working days. “I have to meet my landlord,” the most common excuse. “I extracted my tooth,” and none of her teeth seem to be missing. “I had to move out yesterday,” somehow she found a house and moved her stuff in hours in a country with appalling traffic. “I was sick,” and she comes the next day with perfectly braided locks.
Your husband complains that she’s always frowning, as if it’s your fault.
Every day, you watch videos of psychotic nannies abusing children on Facebook and you can’t decide which is more terrifying: letting her go, doing everything yourself and risking a nervous breakdown, or trusting her with your kids while taking a shower.
You ask for her passport and she only gives you a copy because we all know some imaginary guy is renewing her visa. You might be unlucky, get robbed and remember that copy you hid in the safe box from everyone you know – but newsflash: It is useless. And what I find more hilarious is that the whole safe box might go missing. When it rains, it pours.
You join Facebook groups, add photos of the new hired help and ask if anyone had any issues with her, all while keeping your fingers crossed that she is your new heaven sent gift and no one comments.
The list could go on forever. Something needs to be done about this; We are being ripped off and we keep letting strangers into our houses and sadly, this is not a safe world.
I have to admit that there are some excellent help who actually provide a higher quality service, however, if women don’t make a stand against the ridiculous raise in salaries, this will only get worse with time.
People need to stop disrespecting this job and mistreating them so that unemployed Egyptian girls who are fairly educated wouldn’t consider it a social stigma. We have thousands of girls who are struggling and need that kind of money.
An official bureau has to be in charge of this service. Hopefully, the government, or anyone for that matter, will start properly training these women and create a filing system with all the information needed so we guarantee some sort of safety, not just for us, but for the girls as well who repeatedly suffer from abuse – a win-win situation.
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