The Covid Story: A look into the domestic workers lives.

DWAZ carried out a survey among domestic workers titled COVID 19 AWARENESS AND VACCINATION ACCESS AMONG DOMESTIC WORKERS.

The objective of the survey was to find out the general situation regarding Domestic Workers` access to information about COVID 19 and the extent of their vulnerability within their work places.

The aim being to ascertain the level to which domestic workers have been included in the interventions aimed and mitigating the spread of the virus.

Target

The survey targeted all domestic workers, in Zimbabwe and other countries particulars Botswana and South Africa as the organization has access to them as part of the Associations network

Design and Delivery

The survey was delivered using monkey survey, an online platform for designing and distributing surveys on a massive scale. This survey delivery method targeted domestic workers in Zimbabwe as well as migrant domestic workers in SA and Botswana.

The survey was also  distributed through DWAZ official WhatsApp platforms. 

Results 

From the survey we found that 55 per cent of respondents are full time workers meaning the greater number of domestic workers are confined in the private households and are at risk of contracting the virus from work. 40 per cent of respondents have gone for a covid test, with over 30 per cent of respondents who tested positive confirming that they are sure they contracted the virus from their work place. 58 per cent of respondents have never received or participated in any awareness programs about COVID-19. Over 90 per cent of respondents are aware of the on-going vaccination program and 60 per cent opine that domestic workers should be considered in the category of frontline workers. These statistics speak to the very evident need to take a refreshed look at the domestic work sector and afford domestic workers the recognition they deserve.

For the full results click here 

The untold story 

The following are extracts from some the cases we came across as we spoke to domestic workers quoted as narrated.

“…I remember ndakamboshandira imwe family last year, both husband and wife are paramedics bt vaigara ne extended family, then husband akabatwa covid and wife would go mu isolation room maive nehusband yake and come obata mwana oita breast feed kacheche apa iwe wozopihwa mwana futi so takazoyenda knotestwa the whole family mkadzi nekacheche vakabatwa positive, luckily i tested negative and now hondo yanga yave pakuti ivo vaiti i have to stay ipapo and do my duties as usual ndichirera mwana abatwa covid, ndokusiya kwandakaita basa.So it happens kut unogona kushandisirwa advantage kut urimaid voda kuratidza masimba avo on u but life is very important than money, money u can always work again and get it but life kana watoyenda wayenda ”

 (I worked for a certain family, the husband and wife where Paramedics and they stayed with extended family. The husband tested positive for Covid and isolated in his room. The wife would go into the isolation room, and the breastfeed the baby and then give the baby to me ,imagine. We then went for Covid tests and the whole family tested positive including the baby.Luckily I tested negative and then the challenge was that they wanted me to continue working and staying with them and do my normal child minding  duties looking after a baby who has tested Positive and you are negative. That’s how I left my job.

So it happens that some employers are taking advantage  of you as a maid and boss you around, but life is more important than money, money you can always work for somemore but once you get Covid and die that’s it )

In another different case, aunty narrates her story briefly saying

“Ini last year ndakarwara nayo yabva Kuna boss paairwara haana kana kutaura kuti ari positive ufunge musi wandakamuka ndichirwara ndo wakauya ku room akati usafonera hama dzako pliz ndo taker care newe Corona waitora kwandiri askana ndakarwara mukaona mapic angu munochema imi. Corona inouraya iyi ndakati mwari hamunditori zvisati zvapfuura apa here

 (Last year I contracted the virus from my employer as she had not disclosed that she had tested positive herself. The day I got sick she then came to my room and begged me not to notify my relatives as she pledged that she will take care of me and she confessed that she knew I had contracted the virus from her. Corona is a deadly virus ladies, I got so sick, so badly that if you see my pictures you would cry. I wished and begged God to take my life at some point when it was really bad.”)

So much effort, a great deal intervention in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A great deal of revelations on the importance enforcing and ensuring strict adherence to health and safety for workers has taken centre stage. The various different measures put in place by government, companies, workers unions and many other stakeholders who are concerned about the welfare of workers have been very meaningful and useful in helping to curb the spread and impact of the virus in the workplace. But despite all these efforts, the Domestic Worker remains excluded and continue to suffer the very fate that workers in other occupations have been working so hard to avoid.

As we spoke to some of our members to find out what their experiences have been,it came out that the sad reality is domestic workers are suffering in the confines of their workplaces. Some employers deliberately passing on the virus to their domestic workers, some refusing to grant their workers the permission to leave their work when they know they have the virus and are putting them at risk or even withholding money for Covid tests.

It  is such cases that draws attention to the blatant disregard for the rights and welfare of domestic workers.

The situation of domestic workers is one which we believe will continue to hamper efforts of mitigating the spread of the virus. The fact of the matter is that in any case where one is exposed to the virus, the chances that they will unknowingly pass it on to their loved ones when they go home during their off days are very high. It is imperative that domestic workers be considered and given special attention in the awareness and the on-going vaccination program so that they too can perform their work without having to worry abou their health and safety as is the case now for many of them.

Due to the nature of their work, it would be ideal that a day be set aside dedicated to serving domestic workers who want to be vaccinated. From the survey we conducted it was evident that most respondents preferred the weekend ,precisely  Saturday when we asked them which day they would be comfortable with. This is because most Domestic Workers get one day off. They can use this time to go to the vaccination Center nearest to them and get vaccinated. This way we ensure their health is looked after as they continue providing an important service.

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