We’ve nothing to lose by offering help
2019-04-01 18:27:27 -

Mariaam Bhatti: Tales of a Domestic Worker


Many people don’t realise how tough it is looking after children. I don’t expect everyone to understand but for those who have children or have looked after them, they will understand a lot can happen in that single second out of sight, and that in general, while raising or looking after children is fulfilling and fun, it is also inevitably physically draining.


I got reminded of this one rare sunny afternoon around lunchtime as I was catching a bus in the city. As I got on I went to sit at my favourite spot, right at the back seat of the lower deck. I do this because the engine keeps the back seats nice and cosy.


From where I was sitting, at the end of the aisle in the pram-designated area, was a woman with beautiful Afro hair. I admired how some people are able to keep their natural hair looking nice and flowing while I struggle with mine and even after nine years of living in Ireland, I still haven’t figured how to guard it against the damp weather.


While my eyes kept following the lady’s beautiful hair, I noticed she seemed preoccupied. I then saw she had a pram with two little ones in it. Then I saw the driver signalling something at the mother, and she quickly went up to the top deck and came down the stairs holding an arm of a little boy, probably aged four or five. He seemed to be pulling back, protesting that he wanted to stay on the top deck, but for safety the driver had to ask the boy’s mother to bring him down.


Watching the mother try to reason with the boy while attending to the other two younger kids was a real reminder of what a handful children are and of the great value of care work, done by mainly women and sometimes unpaid.


I offered to sit with the boy and have a chat — just to give his mother a few minutes to clear her mind as I could see the frustration in her face. I could also see people looking at the hyperactive boy, the crying baby in a pram and back to the mother who seemed to be doing her best under the circumstances.


Although it was just a small chat, it got the boy to stop running around. He sat across me till it was time for his family to get off, probably 20 minutes later. The mom warmly smiled and thanked me as they departed.


While an offer to help can easily be turned down, sometimes it can be greatly appreciated, and we have nothing to lose if we offer to help someone who needs it. I, for one, would appreciate it if someone came to me and offered me a hand when I needed it, even if only for a few minutes.


Mariaam Bhatti is a member of the Domestic Workers Action Group and Force Labour Action Group of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.

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