Stories of Domestic Workers
Bernardina - dOMESTIC WORKER IN PERU
I came to Lima to work as a domestic worker from the rural Andes when I was only 15 years-old.
When I first arrived, I was very humble and shy. I barely spoke to anyone.
My employer took advantage of the fact that I was just a young girl, alone and unaware of my rights. I used to start working at 6am and most days I would
have to work till midnight!
I came to La Casa de Panchita
because I wanted to get information on how to get my overdue salary.
I attended labour and human rights workshops and thanks to the legal counselling I was able to claim my overdue payments.
I am now studying hard because I want my future children not to have to be child labourers like me and to have all the things I’ve never had.
Cyprian - former child domestic worker in tanzania
I was born near Igombe on Lake Victoria, and lived with my grandparents. Because we had no money, I decided to work in 2008, when I was 11. Domestic work was the only option available for me as a child.
For my first employee, I had to take care of a baby, wash clothes and prepare children for school. I was paid 15,000 shillings (£6) a month. He did not beat me, but the workload was heavy and I was not always paid on time. Neither could I attend school.
In 2010 I was told about rights training, and persuaded my employer to let me attend training. At Wajabu I learned about my rights, and drew up a contract with my grandparents, the community leader and my employer. I also have a form, so the community leader can make sure I'm paid.
I later joined the Advisory Committee at Wajabu, and I have gained many things, like confidence, knowledge of employer relations and budgeting skills. Now I am the Chairperson, and we work to educate other child domestic workers about their rights, and improve their lives. We also consulted with local leaders and obtained a bylaw to protect our rights; now 7 children who were unpaid are now paid, and 45 fellow workers now have contracts.
Now we have more confidence and hope in our future.
Kamala Majhi - Nepalese domestic worker in Lebanon
"My employer used to lock me up in the house and shut all the doors and windows.
I used to feel like a pig, bred to be slaughtered.
I was ordered to wake up at four in the morning and sleep at one in the morning. I used to keep awake by ironing my master’s clothes. I felt like a prisoner in my employer’s house - cut off from the outside world.
When I came back home everyone looked at me shocked, as they thought I was dead. Last time when he saw me I was healthy, but I returned back looking like a skeleton. I feel pained and sad that I lost all my earnings.
I spend my days lamenting about the seven years I lost, and the mental trauma still haunts me."
Watch our documentary on Nepali domestic workers in Lebanon and our work on it:
Story of Mira Ghising
Savitra Pulami Magar talks about here experience of migrating to Lebanon for domestic work
Menuka Baraili returned to Nepal recently and has some lessons for the future
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