I am thankful for friends who talk about their house helps every now and then, it’s nice to hear a good comment about the faces that rarely feature in our profile pictures.
I am even more thankful for those who not only offer this as lip service but take it further and let the outsider on the dining table share the same cup, the conversation.
But these seem to be the exception rather the norm, whereas many middle-class Ugandans may frown at the idea of slave trade on the tele, it remains to be seen whether they care about the one who’s often ordered to switch it off.
We urban elites, (assuming I am one) tend to treat folks different from us with a sense of superiority. Even when don’t notice it, we somehow think our transcript and ATM card give us the permission to run our house help’s world too.
We put down our bag in the evening and somehow think somebody who spent the entire day running the most important place of our lives, must serve us too. We close the bedroom door without a single thought that somebody across the corridor has never known what it means to be cherished, in a family.
We dispense their (often meager salary without a single recollection of how incomparably priceless the tasks of raising children and running a home, are.We ask more questions about our misplaced phone charger without imagining what it means to live in the city when the friends and family you care about most, are miles away.
We sit in the couch and work on “tomorrow’s presentation” without a single idea of what it means to be illiterate; unable to scroll through a newsfeed, or download PDF. But we lie to ourselves, house helps are not just bodies, they carry souls too, they bear ambitions, dreaming just like us, some simply never got a chance to compete favorably- because education, perhaps, a divorce ruined their childhood.
Maybe they even started out like us, until court bailiffs knocked on the front door, or Daddy got a stroke, or it was just fate…fate.Believers must see these things differently, the Bible calls this poverty, it’s more than lack of money and like author Keller puts it, “it’s the lack of anything to boast about in this world”, Jesus talked about the poor in spirit inheriting the kingdom of God. (Matt 5:3)
Most times, House maids carry both kinds of poverty, the spiritual and material, In order to help, believers do well to reach (and perhaps emulate) low-wage labourer”poverty of the spirit” too, remembering when it comes to the Gospel, we are all ultimately beggars, (pointing other beggars to Christ) .
The material privilege we enjoy is a gift from God, salvation itself is.So go ahead, hear out the stranger you often bump into the corridor, listen to the troubled soul that daily turns on the electric kettle.
They have dreams, they’ve probably heard about Bank jobs and wedding gowns, but perhaps material poverty cut their earthly race short, leaving only their spiritual poverty so that their Christian employers may be reminded, their birthday is worth celebrating too, after all.
Now you know what to what to do for your maid’s upcoming birthday, don’t you?