When I was invited to be part of the judging panel for the Bahrain Awareness Award, I jumped to the opportunity and here’s just one reason why:
This week, and after a 3 month wait with a lot of jumping through hoops to fulfill her government’s migration requirements, my new domestic helper has arrived safely in Bahrain. It is so close to Ramadan that you just know how precious her arrival was to me. She is 32 yours old and single mother to 3 children the youngest of which is only 2 years old…
I welcomed her into my home and showed her around and then took her to her room to rest. Every morning she would come down with bloodshot eyes and a despondent look on her face until one day I asked if she was alright and if she needed anything when she suddenly disintegrated into a flood of tears. Once she calmed down she explained that she misses her children and especially her youngest who was too small to understand why her mother was no longer with her…
As a mother myself, this one statement was like a knife in my heart triggering a storm of erratic emotions. I started questioning my own morals wondering why it didn’t occur to me that this would be the case and whether or not I’ve made the right decision causing this rift in such a fragile family. Am I the villain for extricating her from her world and throwing her into this one? Have I created too many victims in the process of ensuring my own comfort?
Would I ever consider leaving my children and traveling thousands of miles to take care of somebody else’s children? Would I be willing to deprive them of access to my affection and venture into unknown territory with a questionable living and working environment? They hear of the stories of abuse and destitution that come out of our region towards domestic helpers and in spite of it all they do come; and there is only one reason for that:
S U R V I V A L
Human beings were born with choices and decisions and consequences; some of us more than others. Those who believe that they have no choice are the ones who compromise on their happiness and that of their children for what they believe is their own good do so because they run out of choices. They have exhausted all possible options in their countries and have barely managed to survive. The only choice they seem to have is to live at someone else’s mercy five time zones away just to barely make enough to give their children a better life… without them in it. They settle to become mere spectators in the new and improved lives they’ve created with the meager income they earn by making our lives easier.
As recipients of their services, as custodians to their welfare, as privileged individuals happily living in the bosom of our families able to embrace our own children whenever we please, would it be too much trouble to treat them with a little respect?
The Bahrain Award has given me a way to contribute to this cause. 50 submissions, 23 shortlisted and 750,000 views. If only 1% of these views have had an impact we would have 7,500 people paying their domestic help on time. Next round is going regional; more views and higher impact and driven by the future “sirs” and “madams” of their own households… just imagine what will become when they have their own domestic help…
It is a flash forward of a future that makes me proud of our youth today.
For more information about the award and this year’s winning submissions visit www.bahrainawards.com .