House Help Chronicles: Confessions of a Frustrated Employer

Written by Yvonne Kanyi for MumsVillage


We call them house help, housekeeper, domestic manager and some derogatory terms like mboch and maid. As a working woman/man and most especially parent it’s not quite possible to do housework as well as office work so house helps are often employed to help out.

Sadly, as an employer you almost never get a perfect fit but you’re left with some funny and crazy stories to tell.

The Panty Thief

“I let out my breath in a sad attempt to calm myself. I have to say nobody has tested my patience like she did. Not even my 3 year old who doesn’t understand that colouring is for paper not my cream coloured walls.  I tried to explain to her once again that a combination of vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes and onions is called salad.

“Hio ni ile inakaanga kama cabbage. Sindio?”

I had to assume she was talking about lettuce. Basically, it took me a whole month to train her which involved a lot of repeated lessons but she was pretty good with my son so I persevered. When I suddenly realized my underwear was disappearing and reappearing in her closet I decide to give her the boot. I wasn’t even mad to be honest, just puzzled. I had a good laugh about it with my sister on the phone after she left.”

Disappearing Act

“Have you ever thought that the day would come when you would find the perfect house help? Well I’ve gotta say I thought that day had come. Cooking? On point. Cleaning? Thorough. Kids? Best friends. Aki thank God my day had come. I never stressed when I was at work and could even stay out late, no worries. Then election season happened! Of course she wanted to go vote  upcountry, where she was registered. She even asked for half her salary. I thought, no problem, right?”

“Wrong! It’s been two weeks and I haven’t heard a thing from her. So sijui kama ako missing ama ni kudisappear. I’m at my wits end. Our agreement was for her to come back the Monday after elections. But supposedly the neighbor heard her saying, “Unajua huku ni kubaya.” So I am back to square one looking for a house help that can iron without burning clothes and their food tastes halfway decent.”


“Let me tell you, I have seen a lot of things in my life, but none like this. This girl that is working for me now, has shown me wonders. The first day she was so eager to work and did everything to the letter. I was pleased. Then one morning…


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