No More

June 7, 2007

Wanting some sort of a life outside of my home, hell, even ten minutes a day of deflating time (if you’re a parent, you know what I mean), I went in search of a live-in maid at the maid agencies in Hawally and Fahaheel a few months ago. I picked one out, and we waited a month and a half for her arrival. She arrived on a Saturday night and by the following Saturday night, she was gone.

In a nutshell this is what happened: I came home from picking my son up from school on Saturday. I made lunch, fed my children (and the maid) and then asked the maid to go upstairs with the children for ten minutes. Five minutes later, my son came down crying, saying that the maid smacked him on his head with a huge pencil the size of a stick that my husband bought for my son at an airport shop a few years back. The red mark on his forehead told me he wasn’t lying. I also learned that she pulled my two year-old daughter’s hair. When I asked the maid what happened, she naturally denied everything. She said she only took the pencil away from my son because he was writing on a wall. He’s not supposed to write on the wall but we make it very clear with all of our maids that if our children do anything wrong, to come to us and tell us so that we can handle the situation. So yeah, she was gone that night. I told my husband that she was the last woman I would bring into my home because I would not accept anyone hurting my children again. I’m done.

In the ten years that I’ve lived in Kuwait, it’s been one nightmare after another when it comes to housekeepers. My husband and I are not evil employers. Our maids get days off every week, rest periods during the day, free use of our phones and phone cards to call their family back home, all of their necessities are bought and paid for by us, we never yell, we treat them with respect until they disrespect us, they never look after our children for more than half an hour, I do all the laundry and cooking, I help out with the big jobs, there were many nights that they went to bed before we did and we sleep early compared to most other people.

Are most of my waking hours spent cleaning? Yes. I’m a housewife, it’s my job and it’s actually great exercise. Do I freak out when friends call to tell me they’re coming over? Yes, but I would hope that I have the type of friends who wouldn’t judge me if my house isn’t spotless. Are there times during the day that I wish I could have a live-in maid? Yes, many times a day in fact. But then I think of all the trouble they have put me and my family through and decide it’s just not worth it.



  1. Stinni,
    This makes me so nervous, because one of the perks of KW to me was having help. My huband went to an agency too and hired a maid who spoke English. She went to stay at his sister’s until I got there…well she’s already gone. She got into a fight w/her maids(fistfight), and was physical w/her granddaughter! Yikes!

  2. Carly – I advise people not to have live-in help with young children because of all the physical and sexual (yes, sexual) abuse that takes place in the home of the employer. People here will constantly talk about maids being beaten and raped, which happens I’m sure – but nobody talks about what happens to OUR children or us, the employers. Even when Kuwaiti children DIE at the hands of maids, it makes front page news for one day and then the story is forgotten. Just today I read about an employer who took her Indonesian maid to the police because the maid tried to smother the employer’s daughter with a pillow.
    I hope your husband has family members who can help you out with babysitting and maybe getting a part-time maid to help you with cleaning would be a solution but it’s all up to you. Living in Kuwait without a maid is hard but it’s something I’ve been doing a while now.

  3. I agree that maids in Kuwait are the bane of our lives! I have been here for many years and the last maid that I’ve had for just over 5 years is really excellent! I’d love to be able to tell you to get one from a certain agency or to treat them in a certain way but having a good maid is purely based on luck. Over the years and after having several maids like the one you described and having tried to behave towards them in different ways I have again come to the conclusion that it is based on luck.
    If you are able to find a maid that is good and trustworthy then they are worth their weight in gold, if not, then I think you are doing the right thing by not having one at all! I remember clearly the stress of having someone in my house that I didn’t trust or get along with – it was so stressful! Much better to do all your own cleaning and be stress free, especially with new supermarkets like Carrefore opening up with all their nice cleaning products – life is much simpler now!

  4. Maids are dangerous if they are not properly screened. Try to get one on the recommendation of other good maids. What you have in the agencies are murderers waiting in line. Infact many are ex convicts who pay their way to Kuwait. Those agencies are not regulated and are in the business of trading in residencies and not importing well screened domestic helpers. There shouldn’t be an agency but rather a company supplying on contract live-in maids. It would be then their full responsibility to ensure thier safety and that of the employers and thier families.

  5. That really sucks. I don’t get why they think they can do that stuff. My maid drives me nutso sometimes, but she loves my daughter. I know I lucked out, so I try to ignore the stupid things she does, but YES. The maid situation is the most frightening things about being here.

    I’ve heard so many horror stories…so many of my friends have had trouble….GAH.

  6. Bianca – Yes, I can’t count the number of times people have said things like, “Get a Filipino, they’re the cleanest. No, no, get a Sri Lankan, they’re respectful. No, no, no, get an Ethiopian, they’re great with kids. Get an older one, they’re hard workers and not into sleeping around. Get a young one, they have more energy. Get a married with one children, she’ll work hard to send back money for her family. Get a single lady, she won’t have any problems coming to her from her home…” It’s all a crap shoot and one that I’m not willing to take anymore until my children are older and when they get older, it will be easier for me to maintain my house and I’ll have more free time as well so perhaps I’ll be maidless forever. I certainly enjoy my privacy. 🙂

  7. Equalizer – One of my aunts who has live-in maids gave me the same advice and I never did it because I could never find anyone with a good maid! My father has an employee from the Philippines working at his company who has told my father that he has a lot of relatives in the PI looking for work abroad. I might take him up on it but like I’ve said before, I’m loving my privacy right now.

    Something has to be done about the maid agencies in Kuwait. How many children have to die at the hands of a domestic worker in Kuwait for something to happen?

  8. Texan in Kuwait – Yes, you’re very lucky. Considering that you’re an American, you’re even luckier because most domestic workers who are employed by Americans in Kuwait tend to abuse the kindness and take it for granted. I have a an American friend who, when she tells her live-in maid to do something, the maid will tell her to wait until she has a cigarette first. That shit just doesn’t fly with a Kuwaiti madame. 🙂

  9. Up until last week I realized it would’ve been way better for me if I had paid 40 kd extra a month to have my son sent to a nursery school than hiring a live-in housekeeper with all the headache, hassle and stress associated with them.

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