Yani: a low paid domestic worker (fiction)
On August 4th 2011 a low paid house-keeper; working in Saudi Arabia travelled to Washington DC, America to announce a speech about how “Low paid workers survive in the Middle East.
Below is a transcript of the speech which Yani (the nanny) gave to her anxiously waiting audience:
Hello, fellow ladies and gentleman. My name is Srihandayani Bt Kayom Tumiran and I am 23 years old!
I am from Java, Indonesia. At the age of 17, I made a decision to apply for a job overseas to help my family. Shortly I was hired to work as a house-keeper for the Yaghi family; in Saudi Arabia.
You are probably wondering, what is this lady doing here talking about her life? Most likely, nobody cares. Well, a couple of months ago I received an invitation letter from the office of Mr. President Obama to talk about what it is like to be as a “low paid worker” in Saudi Arabia.
Honestly, I am very proud of myself because I was able to survive 7 years in Saudi Arabia working as a House-keeper. The only reason why I went to work is so that I could help my family then to save up money to build a small house before getting married.
Personally, I have never found any difficulty in my job; probably because my housing, food, clothes and other necessities are all paid for me by my Sponsor.
Though here’s a fact: many sponsors in Saudi Arabia make their Nannies suffer to the extreme, but Alhamdullilah my sponsor never treated me badly and considered me as a family member!
Miraculously, from the day I moved to Saudi Arabia I was loved and respected by everyone; most-likely because I was also a great person; honest, clean, respectful, and lovable.
Possibly my blessings were because I am a good person and I pay my dues to Allah; I pray my five daily prayers and I fast every Monday. I thank God all the time for everything he has given me and for everything that happens (good or bad).
Though, I can’t deny the fact that I have everything one could wish for and still I have a dream which tickles my head every night.
Are you ready? My final wish is to live in a purple palace guarded from every corner with guards with my husband Mohamed Junaidi. Believe it or not, but I wish that one day I can swap shoes with Cinderella and find out what it’s like to have all the money and love you ever wanted.
Dear over beloved fellow American hard-workers, if you ever travel to a country where you are being given a low salary; don’t be ashamed of yourselves and stand up for your rights!
After 2 years of working, my neighbors’ House Keeper, was so jealous of me because as soon as I arrived I was loved by everyone. She also hated the fact that I was one of the only Nannies who knew English and Arabic besides the native language and I could read, write and had a computer, Internet access, television and 2 new exclusive Smartphone’s. I’m always neat and smell like roses and I wear designer clothes and glasses. That’s why my neighbor’s House Keeper hated me.
Unfortunately, hatred and evil grew in her heart which eventually gave her mind an idea to get rid of me. So this is what she did; at 2:a.m in the morning she called me and told me to come to the backyard. Surprisingly, she had suggest that I steal as much valuables and escape to Mecca; then run away to start working in a black market for a higher pay, just like many do. Then, all of a sudden randomly questions popped into my head.
Ashkurak ya rab (Thank you God), since I was only 18 I was very stupid so I agreed; not knowing the consequences. But as soon as I tried to escape the Yaghi’s puppy began to bark madly to a point where my sponsor woke up.
When my sponsor awoke, he forced me to get into the house for a talk and ordered the other Nanny to never come close to the house. Inside the house, a long lecture took place which set questions and guilt in my brain.
After the lecture I went to sleep and thought about my insane crazy move. The next morning, I dialed 0505374722 and called the cruel and mad Nanny. I threatened her to never step close to the house.
Surprisingly, the wicked Nanny was later caught stealing and was deported. Evil so called friends are plentiful. Just do right and God will reward you one way or another.
It’s a sad reality, a lot of girls end up getting deported and banned from returning back to Saudi Arabia because they get caught working in the black market after running away from their sponsors. Some they run away for legitimate reasons; such as abuse or pay withholding, but others just run away for greed. Yes, there are numerous reported cases of abuse on domestic workers. Some girls get beaten up, whipped with electric cords, burned with irons, starved for weeks, or forced to work 20 hours a day without rest.
Equally, there are bad girls who just run away with drivers or male associates in order to make extra pay and live with men or fellow house-keepers.
Alhamdulillah I am satisfied with my good life style, good pay, and I get to have a paid two month vacation every two years with airline tickets paid and all associated expenses. If I were to escape and work in the black market then I would have to pay for rent, medical care, food, and risk getting caught by authorities.
Only the devil would encourage wrong doing. The devil and his associates make bad things look tempting, but deep inside they are not. God wants us to be honest, faithful, and thankful for whatever he chooses for us. Only Allah knows our destiny.
Be good and God will look after you. Have faith and patience. God bless you.
By: Amer Yaghi 15-11-2011
(12 years old)