Sunday, June 26, 2011

It’s all about Maria!

We decided that we wanted to have a second TV operational in the house. When we moved here we brought 2 ‘tube’ televisions… One a huge heavy 36” that we never even plugged in because DH couldn’t wait for the House Hold Goods to arrive… and bought a Flat Panel for the living room. The other was a 19” Mitsubishi that I bought back in 1987 that has been in nearly constant use since and in recent years as the bedroom TV because it had a sleep timer… so it would shut off… after the news if you fell asleep first!!!

So we move it to the bedroom, and get all set to plug it in… but we realize we needed another power converter… (step down from South Africa power to US power), no biggie, but when we went to plug in the signal converter (from South Africa signal) to one a US television could (read/display) we discovered that this television, although state of the art in 1987 lacked a few device plug ins (audio/video in/out). You can connect cable and antennas, but that is all!!! It doesn’t even have a headphones (sound out) connection! We decided a Flat Panel for the bedroom was the answer. So we get it, connect the DSTV, (South Africa Satellite), and discover that the connection in the bedroom isn’t live, although we asked to have that done when we moved in. So now we wait and wait….

But the real story here I want to share is this:Maria

I have a domestic worker Maria, (known as a housekeeper in the US),  I asked her if she would like the old TV. I got the warmest tightest hug from her and an enthusiastic yes. -Before I go on, I can and have cleaned my own house… but I was informed that it was my duty to create jobs and employ South Africans, so I have a housekeeper and a gardener. Both of whom are wonderful, warm, responsible, caring and diligent workers and I feel so lucky to have them. Anyway, Maria lives a fair piece out in the country. It takes her more than 2 hours to get here every day and often longer to get home each day. So taking the TV on the Transport (the bus) was out of the question… for 2 reasons it’s big and heavy and it would target her for theft. If I had “domestic quarters” I would offer her the opportunity to stay… here, but my house sadly doesn’t have any.

So we took her home. Maria is nearly as old as I, she has worked all her life, she has one son that she has raised, and now has a DIL and a Grand Baby. She has told her son and DIL that if there is domestic violence that the DIL can stay but the son will be OUT. Maria suffered through this… and is divorced and feels very strongly. Strongly enough to boot the boy for his sins… if it ever comes to that. Maria is a very strong lady and works very hard and lives modestly, enough that she has bought her own land and is in the process of building her own house. She saves and builds as she can afford it and in the meantime lives in a small hut in the back of her brick wall house.  When the house is done the son and family will also move in. Even though Maria does not live in a ‘proper’ house, her quarters are neat, clean and tidy- even though she gets up (DH asked and she told us) at 3:30 in the morning, puts the kettle on to boil, makes tea, washes up, makes her bed and leaves for the bus by 4:30 in the morning to get to my house by 8. I have suggested that she could start later, but then she would get home later and she would much rather stop at her sons to play with the baby every day on the way home! Maria only stays 4 hours each day, (I pay her for full time work) which would be anywhere from 6-8 hours per day, but as long is it doesn’t look like I have dogs…. I really don’t care…

Maria is trying to save enough to put the roof on her house. Right now it is just brick walls on the foundation, with window and door frames. But what I really wanted to say is that I feel so very blessed to have Maria and I hope I can help her out … before we leave…. to get a little further on her house!

As Always…. more later!



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thank you for this story -- it brought a tear to my eye.

  3. What a different world. It is hard to imagine her days. Thanks for taking the time to share. Just fascinating.

  4. An amazing, beautiful woman!!

    *This* is the attitude we are all supposed to hard, earn what we have, overcome adversity without letting it become a crutch/excuse/debilitating...and keep on smiling and appreciating the little things. It's so very different from the "entitled" attitudes I encounter daily in the classroom and from the parents.

    She needs a quilt before you leave. Let me know what pattern/colors and I'll make some blocks.

  5. I am glad that Maria is working out for you. I miss her some days more than others but will always remember her strong work ethics and profound belief that we are all responsible for ourselves. She has always tried to continute to society in one way or another, especially women and children. I see that she still wears a suit to work every day. That speaks volumes in itself. I miss her!

  6. what a different life is led by people in other countries - I loved reading this post - I love hearing of every day life in other countries.


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