Starting a family is an important dream for most young couples. However pregnancy and maternity are the hardest parts of this journey. Expectant mothers require adequate time to give birth, to recover, and to nurse their children. Most importantly they need to ensure that they will not lose their job simply because of the pregnancy or maternity leave.
International Labour Organization(ILO) in Convention C183- Maternity Protection Convention 2000(C183) states that;
“On production of a medical certificate or other appropriate certification, as determined by national law and practice, stating the presumed date of childbirth, a woman to whom this Convention applies shall be entitled to a period of maternity leave of not less than 14 weeks.”
However,very few African countries that have adopted the above convention have actually ratified it. The few that have also fall short of the required standards.
The Uganda Employment Act 2006, Part IV-Rights and Duties in Employment; Section 56:Maternity leave states that;
A female employee shall as a consequence of pregnancy have the right to a period of sixty working days leave from work on full wages hereafter referred to as “maternity leave” of which at least four weeks shall follow childbirth or miscarriage.(http://www.mglsd.go.ug/laws/employment%20Act%202006.pdf)
The legal instruments in place as shown above in some work places in Uganda are enforced and that is commendable but what next when it is time to get back to work?
Mothers on conquering the pregnancy and maternity leave battles begin an even bigger battle to find some one to care for their little ones as they get back to work.
The maternity leave privileges are not enjoyed by all mothers. Those in self employment or in informal sector employment have verbal agreements that’s if any. This increases the pressure to return to work soon after giving birth and therefore not much choice on who minds for the new born infant.
Uganda has few certified child minders/ nannies. Even the affluent households will attest to the fact that their child minders were got by word of mouth on recommendation of a friend,workmates or relatives.A search online led me to a few on AupairQuest.com; an online platform linking au pairs, babysitters and nannies to parents worldwide. A further search on the active social media pages in Uganda yielded more that I chose not to include in this article.
All the above available come at exorbitant fees an average Ugandan mother cannot afford.
Cost aside none have the basic skills a child minder ideally should have.
Little or no love for children, no experience in Early Childhood education, no basic first aid skills and most importantly no patience.
Most are hired on the basis of word of mouth reference. Not very many parents know the origin/homes of the people they entrust their children with.
Hard economic times do not leave most mothers the luxury so to speak of doing the thorough background checks on whomever avails themselves for the job.
Experience aside the question we seek to answer is what has brought about the surge in the horrible stories we see on television, social media or even in our immediate neighborhoods.
What has changed in the past few years that has eroded our society of compassion?
Is it just that back then society, specifically in Uganda was not as exposed so media coverage of such happenings was limited?
All print media, social media and television broadcasts today are awash with the release of a maid that tortured a baby and was sentenced to 4 years in jail.
The story in 2014 left the nation and world at large in shock. It got global news coverage and left parents who watched the horrible video footage wondering how safe their children are in the care of child minders.
Because of the graphic nature of the pictures and video the reader is at liberty to either open/not to the provided links below to further understand the case in question.
The situations on the day of her release is more of dissatisfaction from some people.Others claim she got off light while others argue with counseling in detention perhaps she is a reformed person.
Many similar cases that have occurred though the media coverage was not as extensive.
Is the way these “maids” (general common reference to child minders in Uganda) are treated mirrored onto the way they treat the infants/toddlers they care for?
Is the work load enormous thus the pressure to accomplish all tasks by day break yields a lack of compassion for the children?
Are our expectations as parents(Uganda) too high given the fact that most of these child minders are usually uneducated at most semi-literate middle age youth.
Not very many conclusive answers to all the above questions I ask sadly.
Growing up I remember at most 2 aunties (not blood relatives; just fond reference to the nannies) that helped my parents raise us.
They seemed blood relatives and were treated as such for most of what I can remember.
They shared and per took of everything/ event in our home.
The last eventually left at free will when we became of age and joined boarding school.
That above any Ugandan mother today will tell you is a dream.
Personally employed more than 10 in a span of 15 years until I chose to do away with the stay home help. Even those that seem perfect are eventually corrupted. Nothing seemed to do the trick in my journey; increased pay(Uganda has no minimum wage) so this is as per personal understanding, days off, provision of intimate care supplies, name it nothing worked.
Most people I have interacted with attribute the hostile behavior of these child minders to the way they are treated. The child minders are at times also living under hostile working conditions. This doesn’t justify their actions but sure does explain the root cause.
Because of no legislation on a minimum wage, most times their pay in comparison to the work load is unfair.
There are most often no contracts spelling out what exactly their job descriptions are.
A home has a multitude of chores and not even the most skilled person can efficiently do them as well as mind 1 or more children which is most often the case.
Exposure to lots of television(tele novellas with violent scenes) being aired on almost all free to air Tv stations has also corrupted these helpers minds.
The breakdown of the family unit as a whole. The old African concept of living with a few relatives thus some adult supervision is long gone due to hard economic times. Feeding extra people outside the immediate family is an expense everyone avoids.
The very value systems of what is right or wrong have changed.
Communal parenting is gone. A child is answerable to only their parents thus can do as they please without anyone setting them on the right path.
Society has also deviated away from the very norms that glued us together.
Ultimately once we as parents change and behave better(live by example), our children will be better adults. Children most often imitate and grow into characters that surround them.
These child minders do not fall from space but rather come from various disturbed home settings. They most often have experienced violence themselves so they let out all this bottled anger onto the little ones they mind.
Parents and the country as a whole need to push our legislators to advocate for the setting up of the minimum wage as this will clear out issues of underpayment that breeds dissatisfaction.
Parents need to also be more vigilant with who they leave their children with.
Finally if child minders are proving a problem for a parent then perhaps it’s time to explore alternative avenues like day care centers, or relatives helping out.
The safety of the children is very crucial and thus should be taken very seriously.
“Love and respect are the most important aspects of parenting, and of all relationships.”-Jodie Foster
Hello and welcome to Lillyrwomblog.Very new to the whole process but will definitely learn a lot along the way.
There is always a first time for everything I guess.
I am passionate about a few things and will share with you my experiences, thoughts and events relating to these as they either happen or even just as my brain wishes they could happen.
Mother, wife, farmer, nature and International Relations enthusiast sums up who I see myself as.
I love family and have been blessed with a wonderful husband and 3adorable children. True growth in every sense begins when you not only have to cater for your personal needs but those of 4 other humans in my case. Not forgetting in the African sense that of other extended family members. Family is very important to me and always acts as a big influence in all major aspects of my life.
Parenting has evolved a lot whether for the better/worse is a point of debate. Things in my household are done very differently from the way they were 30+ years ago growing up in my parents house.
Many invaluable lessons stick with me though. Watching my parents growing up taught me that love, respect, honesty and faith in God among others are the bonding glue to any happy family.
“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”- Anthony Brandt
Farming is a passion I have newly acquired and so to speak is bringing out a side of me I never would have known otherwise.
The comfort or assumed comfort of an 8-5 job can literally leave one boxed off from the realities of life out there.This comes with shielding off lots of other important aspects in life.
In the 21st century most working adults of course with the exception of those in casual/manual employment sit most of the time; sit in a vehicle(does not matter if personal or public service) then sit all day in office and crown it off with a good movie or Television program on the couch in the evening.
This desk bound lifestyle breeds lots of health complications.
Dr James Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and Inventor of the Treadmill desk has done extensive research on the adverse effects of increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years. He sums his findings in two sentences;
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
Farming has seen me more in touch with the countryside. This has come with vast experiences both pleasant and unpleasant. The things some people take for granted are a luxury others cannot even dare to dream of.
We know these situations exist, we have studied about them in class growing up maybe or even watched a documentary but had never contextualized them. Some leave me in shock but also give me a greater appreciation for what God has blessed me with this far. That in particular has been a good grounding experience.
Nature preservation is another major passion I have. With farming comes numerous trips to my farm or to other people’s farms either to learn or on invite by farming friends.
Uganda is experiencing a surge in the number of people engaged in nature preserving activities. Many trees especially Eucalyptus and Pine are being planted. Seeing these growing forests especially on previously bare lands is breathtaking!
Social media is equally awash with conservation groups, explaining different procedures from tree bed planning,planting all through to trimming when mature. The youth have discovered the gold in trees.
Homes owners have embraced new landscaping ideas, fruit tree growing. With this they benefit both shade and fruits. The juicing movement(juice therapy) has also exposed the fact that most of these fruit tree leaves can also be consumed in various ways with enormous health benefits.
I can proudly say I have also contributed to the nation’s forest cover.
Have planted quite some acres of trees in the past few years. My heart swells with joy every time I stand among them and continue to disappear from sight, a sign they are growing.
“Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.” Wangari Maathai
Lastly International Relations keep me yearning to learn something new everyday. The changing dynamics of how different nations world over relate in regard to cultural, economic and political aspects in their respective countries fascinates me.
The various world issues be it security, economic welfare, health, food security, environmental conservation and cultural diversity all at various times create important focal points in news broadcasts, lecture rooms or even governmental agency boardrooms.
My brain is always eager to absorb something new everyday.
“The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.”-Albert Einstein
Embarking on this journey with much joy.