Growing up in a household of four girls, in a time and place where servants were unheard of, as well as dishwashers and dryers, we all learned the various tasks of running a home. When I moved away from home, got married, and established my own home, I took those skills with me.
In Mozambique, many things are different. It is both expected and somewhat necessary for westerners to have someone to help with the household chores. It provides a job for someone, who, in turn, is able to feed and clothe a family.
This can be very helpful. Shopping for groceries in Mozambique can be a very time-consuming job, since the items I need are spread all over town in various stores and open-air markets. Having someone who knows where to get the best quality fresh food for less relieves some stress. In addition, the dusty dirt roads, dusty yard, and open windows mean that keeping the tile floors clean for more than a day is impossible. A house worker who sweeps and mops them regularly saves me a lot of time and effort. This is the sunny side of employing a servant.
Of course, there is also a downside. For most people, our home is our sanctuary, the only place we can truly relax and be ourselves, enjoy downtime with our family. That is even more true when one lives in a foreign country. But when a house worker enters my home, it brings an outsider into my only haven in this strange place. There are miscommunications and misunderstandings. Things are not done the way I would do them, which is understandable—what two people do anything exactly the same? But it is still challenging. That is the cloudy side of employing a servant.
Some days it’s a sunny experience; other days are a bit cloudier. I’m learning to live with both.