Unburden your life, get domestic help

After you’ve moved to the Gambia, you may consider hiring affordable domestic help for your home in the Gambia.

If you’ve just moved to the Gambia, this will be the one and only item on your moving-in list where things will progress swiftly. That is why it is best to put some thought into hiring domestic help in the Gambia ahead of time.

Domestic help in the Gambia

Having domestic help (a maid) is the one thing you will absolutely cherish in the Gambia because having domestic help is simply wonderful. Just think – you have a walk along the beach while your laundry is being ironed and your bathrooms cleaned!

Hiring domestic help unburdens you and creates jobs at the same time

Valuable jobs

Almost all well-to-do or actually what we would consider middle-class Gambians employ domestic workers – housekeepers, nannies, gardeners, private drivers etc – and as a homeowner in the Gambia, so will you. In fact, you will be expected to, because this will give a valuable job to someone who most likely will support a large family with it. As soon as you will have moved into your house, people will come knocking at your door for jobs.

This will be the one and only item on your moving-in list where things will progress swiftly, I can promise you. That is why it is best to put some thought into this topic ahead of time. Will you want someone coming in several times a week? Or will you want her to live with you? In that case, she will occupy the domestic quarter, something most houses here are equipped with (if typically not very spacious).

Finding good domestic help

The best way to find good domestic help is to hire someone who’s worked in another household before. I personally think the best background check is for you to talk with the previous employer and find out whether and why they were happy with her or his work.

How much should you pay?

Typical salaries for domestic workers depend on the skill level, i.e. in addition to cleaning does she cook and babysit and perhaps even drive and the hours that they are working? Are they leaving at the end of each day or do they live with you? Always leave room for raises or the occasional help they will need when, say, a relative has died, a child gets sick, or their house is leaking. For a live-in help you typically also provide the food, plus furnishings for her room, and perhaps the occasional doctor’s visit, since there is no insurance to speak of.

Contracts for domestic workers

What you should also make sure of before you hire a domestic worker is that he or she is Gambian or, if not, make sure that he or she is in the country legally as a permanent resident with working papers.

Make sure you spend some time interviewing her and checking her ID, and have her come work for you on a temporary basis first, to get an opportunity to watch her and specify exactly what it is you want to be done – and what not! Gambians are generally very kind with a great sense of humour, but they are also proud people who want to be taken seriously. An experienced maid will have her routine and if you want things done a certain way, it is best to talk about all those things up front, or perhaps have regular meetings to address any changes.

Since you’ve probably never had the luxury of someone cleaning up after you around the clock, you actually won’t know what exactly it is you want to be done. And you might be uncomfortable at the very thought of someone working around you all day and another person (in addition to your kids and spouse) for you to “manage.” But having domestic help here in the Gambia is also a wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse into an entirely different culture and gain an appreciation for all walks of life.

So while you’re busy packing up and saying your good-byes at home, take some time to think about your future Gambian life with domestic help. And count the times you’re scrubbing toothpaste out of your sink, mopping and cleaning and tidying up the garden – they might be your last for a while!

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