Masada Kai is a show that chronicles the lives and longings of domestic workers. In this episode, Mary shares her experience of having worked in Saudi Arabia with RJ Manjula.
Mary was sent to work as a household help and cook for a family living in Saudi Arabia. She was sent there through an agency which she got in contact with at a time when her family was in dire need of a breadwinner other than her mother.
A shift to an entirely new country didn’t come without its share of challenges for Mary, who initially struggled with the language. However, she was soon inducted into the ways of the household and began working alongside the other domestic help there. Like countless other such workers who live at their place of work, Mary too faced the struggle of being on her employers’ beck and call at all times. She had to be available to work irrespective of whether she was sick or the timing was odd. She was often forced to work with very little or no sleep. Mary, surprisingly, still believes that she in fact was one of the fortunate ones as so many others who work for families full time get treated even worse by their employers.
More often than not, people like Mary are stuck between the devil and the deep sea as they face the pressure of being the providers for their families as well as the unreasonable demands of their employers. They are treated unfairly on both ends but are expected to work flawlessly. With their Iqama and passports being taken away by the employers in these countries, they have no choice but to submit to their employers’ ways. It is unfortunate that these incidents are not isolated ones but happen to a number of people on an everyday basis. These often happen through unregistered placement agencies who send workers for a profit. Things like this are likely to change only if a proper check is kept on the said agencies and their work, and if they are made accountable for the well-being of these workers.
Today, Mary is back in India and works at a garment factory. She, however, lives with the regret and sadness that because of the many demands from her family, all her hard work has been for nothing, and she is forced to work even today, in spite of sickness. Mary’s story is that of many women, and all of them stand together in hope of change.