Ah maids. Where to begin with this HK phenomenon. I find this whole issue very conflicting: who doesn’t want help around the house?! I wager that I do not know a single person who loves to clean SO much that they wouldn’t hand it off to someone else if they could. But yet, it is such an unfair system. They are treated like second class citizens in so many ways, which I struggle to accept. For instance, at our apartment there are many facilities for use (gym, pools, play rooms, etc) that are accessed through your Residence Card. I was a little shocked to find out that our Helper would only receive something called a Guidance Card. It allows access to, but not the use of, these facilities. So my Helper can take my sons to the pool…. But she can’t go in. Nor can she use the pool or gym – even on her day off. Sigh…
I don’t know the answer to this situation as I certainly can’t start a revolution and I don’t think the Maids/Helpers would want me to. You see, I look at their lives relative to mine and see so much lacking in personal and economic freedom. But they are coming from what they had before – in their native country (mostly Indonesia or the Philippines) and see that HK offers so much more than they can have at home. Their salary is higher in HK, they can have a job past their late 20’s (apparently once you hit the late 20’s in the Philippines my Helper says no one wants to hire you as they can hire new graduates who are cheaper, keener and easier to push around). So it’s all relative.
What I have decided then, is to do what I can for my own Helper. To make her time with us as pleasant as I can and treat her with respect and dignity. We won’t be best friends – I am her employer and having managed people before I think it is very difficult to be close friends when you are the boss- but we can be friendly to each other. I appreciate every single thing she does for us. Heck, I know how much work it is as I have done it on my own for the past 3 and a half years!
Part of making her life with us comfortable is to make her quarters comfortable and inviting. The maid rooms in HK apartments are small. Much like the apartments themselves really! So small that ours can’t fit a normal size single bed – I had to get a custom mattress made. Her room is 1.75m x 1.2m. Tiny by Australian and US standards. I would say people in the US have entry cupboards bigger than her room. But it is hers and hers alone. Privacy is appreciated!
So what is an interiors-loving gal to do?! Well, try to make it look nice of course!
I did up a few design boards for her room. Our maid room has a built in lofted bed with a small closet and drawers underneath. This is the bare bones room:
So, yeah. Not great. I would almost preferred if there wasn’t a built in unit there as I think the ones you can get from IKEA are much nicer. But this is what I had.
My brief to myself was to produce three options, each of a different interiors style, with all items from IKEA. This was only because IKEA is the only reasonably priced place for homewares I know of here so far! So without further ado, these are the design boards I created:
Now you can all try to guess which one my Helper chose?
Once the room is completed I will do a follow up post with pictures of the space – hopefully looking a lot more cosy and inviting!
P.S. Since I started writing this I have now found out that if you are willing to use up one of the allocated Resident’s Cards of your apartment, then you can get one for your Helper. So our Helper can now use all the facilities and be treated like a full human being! Yay!