Back home I could barely afford the occasional babysitter for ‘date night’ with my hubby. Here in Pakistan, however, I employ a live-in maid, driver, cook, gardener and night guard — all for the grand total of about $400 US/month. It’s wonderful having these people look after my family and I’ve come to see them as friends, especially our driver who I trust transporting my kids to and from sport & social events.
A few of my Pakistani neighbors have complained I’m over-paying my help, causing their servants to be unhappy. One person from an outrageously huge house even had the nerve to ask me to reduce my helps’ salaries. It’s clear why laborers prefer to work for foreigners.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, however. Our first maid stole my wedding band, the cook had an affair with the next maid, the new cook was not dependable, the first cook returned but left soon after, the gardener ran off with my lawn mower and the night guard sleeps on the job.
Sometimes I feel like the local bank–my driver recently asked for $90 to help cover his child’s school tuition & uniforms, the cook needed $30 for a doctor’s visit & medicine. Then there is the double pay for various holidays. I’m usually happy to help but I’m not sure how involved I want to become in the lives of my house-staff. I’m afraid that they believe I’ve adopted them and their families. Still, the lack of compassion displayed by the neighbors bothers me.
Here’s the way I look it: If I give money to a charity there will, most likely, be some CEO taking home at least 100K. By giving directly to people who work for me it means every cent goes into their pocket. I feel good knowing they are cared for.
I’m fairly new to the overseas life style and would appreciate any advice from other overseas educators on the topic of household help. How involved should I become in their lives? What works for you?