Leribisi (26) and her three year old son Mpho lived in a shack in Shoshanguve, west of Pretoria. When it rains all her possessions not wrapped in plastic or raised off the floor are soaked. When she buys food she has to cook and eat everything at once as the rats come at night. When she is alone her estranged boyfriend has no trouble in forcing his way into her one room flat. Lastly, there is no power when she and her son does homework by candlelight, Leribisi hoping to finish her matric and Mpho having pre-school homework.
Her greatest (and most far flung) wish was to one day live in a brick home, one of those with tiles on the floor, a locking gate and an electric light. The family she works for as a domestic worker never knew the realities of her living standards, nor how possible (or impossible) it would be to help Leribisi move to a brick home.
After the announcements on the amended minimum wages and a desire to understand Leribisi’s situation better and hopefully respond in a responsible manner a number of simple questions were asked. “Where do you live Leribisi?”. “In Shoshanguve mam.” “No, where do you live in Shoshanguve? Your house, what’s it like? May we come visit you?” “I live in a shack mam, and you cannot come visit me mam, I am too shy for that.”
A simple conversation ignited change in the hearts of both Leribisi and her employers. Suddenly a distant and deep divide became close and real. What would it cost to help Leribisi move and potentially alter the course of her future? The hard truth is it was to Leribisi an unclimbable mountain but to her employer a concerning ignorance. A salary raise of a mere R300 allowed Leribisi to move to her dream home, with electricity, a fridge for her food, safety at night and the ability to do her homework effectively. Rent in her area amounted to R300 per month for a tin shack and R600 per month for a brick unit with tiles, electricity and basic plumbing.
How close are you to forever changing the lives of your employers? It could be as little as R300 per month or a few simple questions.
If you decide to take up the challenge and have a testimony to share, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to encourage others with your stories.