Househelp in Afghanistan
Some people coming to Afghanistan have never had to work with househelp. It can take some getting used to, but is almost essential to smooth functioning of the household in Afghanistan.
The reasons for needing a househelper are:
- Afghanistan is very dusty. Dust storms are frequent.
- Daily life takes more time than it does at home
- Things are always breaking here
- Much of your energy go towards work and dealing with the culture, leaving much less energy to handle mundane household tasks you may be used to handling on your own.
How to find a good househelper in Afghanistan?
Between the guards, the cook, the gardner, the neighbors, and all other sorts of Afghans who want to find a job for a woman or man in their family, you could have a fair amount of people to interview without even trying hard.
NGO's have access to advertise through the ACBAR website for positions. But if you are a company coming in, your main Afghan liason officer or office manager should be able to assist you to find several women or men to interview.
Even if you don't understand a lick of Dari or Pashto, go ahead and interview through a translator. Just by watching the responses and hearing the translation, you can get a feel if this is a person you think you'll like.
You need to ask things like:
- What is your experience working for a foreigner? If she/he has none, and you are new, move on to the next person. You'll need someone who needs less training.
- Are you able to reliable work X days and X hours per week?
The interviewee needs to understand she/he is committing to a job. Some Afghan women may never have worked a job outside the home and do not really have a concept of this. Same issue if you are interviewing a kid just finishing highschool. You need to explain the job expectations.
- If you have ascertained she is married and is a mother, ask Is your husband comfortable with you working and who will take care of the children? What happens when the children are sick?
She needs to have satisfactory answers that she will have help from others in the family.
- Tell her/him what tasks you have to be done each day, and ask if she/he believes they can accomplish them.
- Inform her/him that you expect from your employees honesty and hard work. Honesty includes not lying and nothing "becoming missing" from your home. (Make sure to say it with a smile.)
- Inform her/him that you desire people to work for you who have "a happy heart" and do not complain.
- Inform her/him that no loans will be given while working for you. She/He will receive a salary. Period. No loans.
- Inform her/him of the salary and benefits. If you sense this is not enough, move on to the next person. Many many people would be happy to have the job.
Typical salary for the average 6 days work, 7 hours a day, are between $150-$250, depending upon her/his competence. You should include an Afghan lunch of nan and tea. We commonly choose to pay for typical medical issues for the worker, but not for the family. If there is a family emergency, we may give a financial gift to help out.
You will be asked to pay for transportation to the job and back. That is outside of a normal salary benefit, so say no if you don't want to pay it. It is common to give bonus at certain holidays or at the winter time. You can inform you employee later about bonuses if you have not decided yet.
- Put her/him on probation at a lower wage (explain this ahead of time). Start her/him for the first month at $150. If you do not like her/him, or she/he does not like the job, you can mutually agree to immediate separation during the probationary period. After satisfactorily completing the first month, you can raise the salary and give three written warnings if job performance is unsatisfactory.
- Because our desire is to help Afghans, we also choose to help our house workers with their education. We tell them we will pay for all their English and Computer training courses they take outside of the work schedule.
If they do not access those funds, that is their own choice. Usually those who are not trying to improve themselves are often not good workers.
Really, househelpers often become like family, and we have grown close with several very kind Afghan families who have helped us a great deal in the home, but also been our cultural instructors and in the end, more than employees...but friends.
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