Ramadan… it’s not about you

Ramadan starts tomorrow and there has been a few confused posting on expat forums about general working hours and normal routines of their household staff members during this period (ie. nannies and maids). Questions of what to expect from household staff during the fasting month and if it’s reasonable to offer special time off or shorter working hours to accommodate. I think these are very reasonable questions and topics to be discussed.

What I don’t appreciate are the string of negative responses from certain people. The comments are disrespectful, dehumanizing and mostly, not related to the issue at hand. Rather than offering proactive feedback and helpful responses, some people are using this as an opportunity to highlight their shortfalls or negative experiences with their own household staff members in the past.

I think these kind of responses are showcasing how some people feel that they are entitled to having household help. Like it is their absolute birthright to have other people to wash their clothes, clean their house and care for their children.

Let me make this very clear. Having household staff is not a right or an entitlement. It is an advantageous part of living in Indonesia, and it is a choice.

It is a choice as a person to hire one or not. And don’t forget, it is also a choice of the household staff member to work for you. Household staff members were not born to serve you! And you were not born to be served! If you don’t like or feel comfortable with the dynamic of the situation, then consider not hiring household help. Your maid should not devote her entire existence to meet your needs! It is her job and if she’s not meeting your expectations of the role, then manage it like any other employment relationship.

Ramadan is a holy month in Indonesia where fasting occurs all day while the sun is out. It’s a difficult time physically but it’s also a beautiful time of devotion and celebration with family. It is the priority of this country. Please respect and appreciate this. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. IT’S ABOUT SOMETHING BIGGER AND GREATER THAN YOU. It is not unreasonable to offer shorter working hours for all employees in all work settings and to be sensitive of this time. It is not an opportunity to complain or bitterly display your negative sediments on household staff. Household help members are human beings and they play a crucial role in our families.

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