Sat | Mar 17, 2018

Big up your helper

Published:Monday | May 23, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Tamika Clough

For middle- and upper-class Jamaicans, domestic help is a constant part of their daily lives.

At the recent press launch of the GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Awards, Minister of Labour Shahine Robinson spoke with deep respect and love for her own housekeeper who had been with her family for upwards of 60 years. They now continue to take care of her in her golden years.

Our housekeepers are surrogate mothers, confidants and best friends. However, when we listen to most housekeepers, they will say their job is thankless. They enjoy it, they love their employers, but their only tangible reward is a salary. This is now changing, thanks to the legacy of Heather Little-White and the benevolence of the GraceKennedy Group, who have instituted the Housekeeper of the Year Awards. This event serves to highlight household workers who have been nominated by their employers for their excellent service.

In my parent's household we have had our share of quality help. I can think of Miss Ket who was stern but I loved her because I knew she was taking good care of me. I never failed to come home to a cooked meal after school, and I had to do my homework and take a dreaded bath. She was no nonsense with routine, but never failed to laugh and play with us.

I also cannot forget Ann. She was hired primarily to look after my baby brother when he was born in 1988, the same year as Gilbert. We all loved Ann - she was not help, she was family. At 22 she was stylish and young, which made her easy to relate to. She was very clean and got the job done. Ann was from cold, cold Coleyville in Manchester, and my parents drove to her home from ours in St Andrew, so we could see and meet her parents and her little daughter.

Almost 30 years later, the memory of her family's warmth and hospitality has stuck with me.

I dare not forget Bud. Short for Black Bud, real name Errol. Nicknamed for his beautiful ebony complexion, he served as everything - handyman, cook, dishwasher and gardener for my family. He comes and goes, but we know no matter how long he's gone for, he will eventually turn up at some point. He still works for my parents, strong and consistent.

My daughter and Bud are now also thick as thieves. I am touched to see her share with Bud the same fun and friendship he and I shared in my childhood.

In my youth there were no awards for housekeepers. I can bet many reading this weren't aware that there is, and that you may nominate your household worker, male or female, to be considered. There is even a Household Workers' Union to which they can become members. Take time out to appreciate those who work in your home. Show them what they mean to you.

Let us lift them up, they deserve it. They hold us together, they keep us clean, they free our time, they cook our food and they raise our children. Let us reward them.

Big up yourselves Miss Ket, Ann and Bud. I will always love you.

• You may contact Tamika Small-Clough at

Call 512-7293, and email