August 16, 2022

Confessions of a Former Housemaid in Dubai ——Part 1

By Jeanette Atim Niwabine

Are you planning to go to Dubai for kyeyo? You have no idea what awaits you!!! Here is my story.

My first job in Dubai was not a maid. I was a cleaner! Yes, a house cleaner. My boss, or lady of the house called for a meeting with me and another girl I was to work with. She explains to us that, she will be having clothes each day to wash. Our job was to make sure we wash all clothes, iron them and hang them. Then fold each of the clothes, put them in laundry basket.

“Excuse me,” I put my hand up to ask! “Is that all I will be doing” With a smile on her face, she said YES.

Some wave of excitement went through me. But I had no idea what was coming my way.

That night, my friend and I shared a very small bed the size of those hospital stretcher bed they use to take patients. We ate some very little rice on a plate I had seen the woman server her dog from.

I heard her tell her mid aged daughter to stay away from us as we might infect her with diseases. This was my first encounter with humiliation, disgrace and real racism.

That night, on that small bed, I could not sleep. A wave of fear was all over me. Sometimes, the human being can be scared for the right reasons.

In the morning, at 6am sharp. The lady woke us up with slaps and kicks. She shouted at us for over sleeping and as soon as stepped out of the tiny room, she poured ice cold water on us. It was too cold that I slid and almost broke my arm. Why she was being this ruthless, I wondered. A tear dropped. 🙁

She dragged me by the ears to the bathroom balcony where I found a pile of soo many clothes. I swear, the clothes could fill up pickup. Piled together, the bunch of clothes was taller than me. Spread apart, these clothes could cover a cloth line of 300meters.

That bunch of clothes was for me and the other girl to wash, sort, iron and fold properly.

It took 8hrs alone for the two of us to wash all these clothes.

“Was this going to be daily” I wondered! No lunch, hash commands, kibokos (beatings) and extremely dirty and smelly clothes, this was to be our daily work for as long as I worked for this woman!

Week two of my being in DUBAI, my lady boss found me bending over washing the huge pile of clothes on the balcony. Those many clothes were a collection of all her friends who apparently contributed to my salary. She got so pissed, started shouting at me before she quickly dragged my head, and drowned it into a bowl full of water nearly killing me.

As I gasped for breathe, she kicked me by the butt and pushed closely throwing me off the 7th floor of the apartment. I was scared. She blamed me for trying to seduce her man by wearing a skimpy skirt while washing the 100kgs+ of clothes. 

I almost fought back! I almost grabbed her by the dress! I felt like throwing this pencil thin lady boss off the balcony and kill her instantly.

But I was scared! One, scared of murder but also scared that if thrown in Dubai prison, I would never see light of day. I refrained from any violence! I stayed calm, grabbed a long dress, put it and continued washing. My hands were bleeding. In just 2 weeks, I had so far washed enough that could cloth 2 secondary schools.

The more I washed, the more I got weak. The weaker I got, the less reproductive I became and this annoyed this woman the more. To her, I was a machine capable of performing no matter the conditions. Every day, I wondered why I can’t just kill this fool and rot in prison. But I failed!

I could not make any call nor use my phone because my phone was roaming. The only way out would be to use WiFi, but that devil of a woman never let go of her WiFi password. 

I started scheming for ways to access internet, use my phone to communicate with the agent that brought me to Dubai and notify them to find me another job.

This seemed futile. 

One Thursday, she found me peeping in her phone and hell broke loose. She cried that I was a thief, called me ‘silly stinking black bitch’. Then she led me to another small tiny black room where she locked me. This was her punishment room. In this room, she could murder you, starve you or just leave you to suffocate there till you drop dead.

In under  an hour, I was already sweating, failed breathe and tears dried. In those tiny seconds of my dying moments, there came a knock on her apartment door……

To be continued in our next series on life of a Ugandan maid in Dubai

Reproduced with permission from the author

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