Housemaids find pride of place at city meet

Fifty-five-year-old Pramila Dei came to the capital city from Dasapalla several decades ago to earn money in order to free her mortgaged land from the clutches of a moneylender. Since then she has been working as a maid in sundry households to eke out a living.

“I have seen her take care of my house since I was born. My childhood wouldn’t have been the same without her. She is an amazing storyteller. I still remember the interesting and spooky stories she used to entertain me with when I was a child. She is not only a good caretaker of my house but also a loving wife, a responsible mother and a caring grandmother to her own family. She is an extremely strong woman and has overcome all the difficulties of life without any complaints,” recounted Pralisha Sahu, in whose house Pramila has been working for many years now.

Many like Parlisha came together to share their memories about their maids at ‘Not Just A Maid’ meet, an event organized by Bakul Foundation, a city-based voluntary organization, to spare a thought for the silent force of housemaids, whose invaluable contribution in most households is seldom recognized or acknowledged.

“Since long, attempts are being made to regularize the work of domestic workers. Amidst the promises of the policy makers we have taken the first tentative steps and started an informal conversation with some domestic workers. We have tried to find out a little more about the maids, about their dreams, frustrations, likes and dislikes. We have realized that they are not just maids and that no life, even a maid’s, is ordinary. We also decided to involve children in the project to sensitize them,” said Sujit Mahapatra, founder of Bakul.

“It was like a summer project and as a part of it we got a chance to know so many things about our housemaids, their lifestyle, their problems and so on,” said Ramayank Samantaray, a Class VI student of Sri Aurobindo Integral school, who participated in the event.

About 25 women from Sundargarh, many of whom had worked as domestic workers in Delhi, also shared their experiences at the event, some of them heartrending.

A film ‘Teen Batti Chaar Raste’ by V Santaram was also screened on the occasion, along with an exhibition of photographs on maids and their lifestyle.

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