Rethinking laundry and chores

In only a month, I have had an evolution about how I approach chores and laundry around my apartment. At first, the frugal individual in me wanted to do everything. I thought that paying someone to clean the house, sweep the floor, do my laundry, take out my trash was lazy, costly, and perhaps demeaning. A series of events has led me to question those preconceptions:

 

1. A woman approached me a few weeks ago one night with one of her two young kids in hand and asked if I had any work for her to do at my place. She was looking for extra work and currently was the “house woman” for one my neighbors and lived in the “help quarters” there. She offered to do the laundry, dishes, house cleaning, and trash clean up. She was looking for extra income. Anyone, Ugandan or expat, who can afford what are called “house boys” or “house girls” hires them, even people who have lower-middle class economic status. The way she approached me summed up why I should let up on my “can do it all mentality” because I can afford to help one of them out by offering work, work that costs me no more than $7 or $8 equivalent per week.

 

2. So on that note, I decided to hire one of Matt’s Ugandan friends. His name is Nelson, and he works for a Christian organization Matt supports locally. Nelson is a guard there and lives with his girlfriend/partner Jasper (soon to be married) and child. Nelson’s story is interesting. He trained at one point to be a mercenary in Iraq. Apparently, some East Africans were being recruited to be employed as mercenaries there. (I do not know for which faction though.) He ended up not going; however, he has some friends who are there and some who died as mercenaries. Now he is trying to earn enough money so he and Jasper can get married. Marriage is extremely expensive here and rarely do poorer people elope or get married. Even to get a simple legal marriage from a judge is difficult and expensive by itself. I got back my first load of laundry that he and Jasper cleaned for me – they cleaned out stains that were in the clothing when I brought it to Uganda. I still clean a few items myself and hang them on a line on my balcony, but I plan on employing them for laundry while I am here.

 

3. I still do not feel comfortable giving a key to someone to come in and dust. It is SO dusty here and floors, countertops, basically anything not in a closet gets dirty here quickly. I can see why the tenants above and below me employ a cleaning woman and man, respectively. I think Willem, Michiel, and me will do it ourselves for the time being. I probably could trust someone, if I pick someone connected to people here that can vouch for them, such as Nelson. Time will tell if I change my mind, but there is something nice about cleaning yourself and since I’ve furnished the place I like taking ownership in cleaning so far.

 

4. Garbage. I left it out one Wednesday morning to be taken by a presumed garbage service that comes to my wealthier neighbors. I do not think it was taken by the garbage trucks, though. Someone disposed of it somehow. The cleaning guy downstairs told me to put it out on Saturdays by his room that is attached to first floor tenant, but I am not sure if I would pay him or if it is included with my rent. Any way, I hired the house woman upstairs, Rose. Rose has two children, Micah and Catherine, who live with the 30-something brother and sister who rent above me. My garbage will probably get dumped or burned, but the landlord decided not to offer a pickup service because the other tenants in the complex area thought it too costly. It is a short term solution that will hopefully help Rose, but my “green” side shirks from the disposal method.

 

This is an entirely too long and detailed post but the point of it follows. At least in my current context, doing the work myself, although perhaps rewarding and certainly cost-saving, essentially equals less work for others in a society that lacks enough jobs for the employable population and where people make low wage even at relative standards. While the work is menial, it is work available in a place lacking enough employment. At home I would feel lazy paying someone else, but here I could see myself eventually feeling stingy and guilty in not hiring people for some of the jobs.

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One Response to “Rethinking laundry and chores”

  1. Amanda Says:

    You might feel lazy at home, but there are a lot of people in this country who appreciate their work as housekeepers, too!

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