x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

A maid in Dubai is treated with affection

Leny Alzaga, a housemaid in Dubai, earns more than $800 a month and has a laptop and a BlackBerry.

Leny Alzaga, centre, a Filipina housemaid, with her employers Joanna Robinson, second left, and children Summer and Chase Robinson, inside their home at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.
Leny Alzaga, centre, a Filipina housemaid, with her employers Joanna Robinson, second left, and children Summer and Chase Robinson, inside their home at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.

DUBAI // Leny Alzaga earns nearly twice the minimum wage recommended by her country, has her own television and DVD player in her room and owns a laptop and BlackBerry phone.

The 35-year old housemaid from Iloilo City in the Philippines takes time off from Thursday night to Friday night each week.

The reform package introduced by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in December 2006 says maids must be paid a monthly minimum wage of US$400 (Dh1,470).

Her employers, Gareth Robinson, 41, from New Zealand, and his Australian wife, have full-time jobs in Dubai and hired Mrs Alzaga nearly two years ago. They have two children, Summer, 6, and Chase, 3.

"Their home is very neat and requires minimal cleaning," Mrs Alzaga said. "They tidy up. Even their six-year-old daughter tidies up her own bed."

Her day starts at 6am. She prepares a sandwich and some fruit for Summer's lunch box.

At 7.30am, Mrs Alzaga wakes up Chase, who attends a nursery near their home. She walks with him to school, and she fetches him at noon. She prepares dinner, which the family heats up afterwards.

At 3.40pm, Summer gets off a school bus, which Mrs Alzaga meets. She takes her to her art, tennis and piano classes during the week.

By 8.30 or 9pm, Mrs Alzaga retires for the night to her own room.

"In Australia, we do not have house help," said Mrs Robinson, who is a manager at a multinational company in Jebel Ali, "so we've got an appreciation of what she does."

The family's apartment at Jumeirah Beach Residence has three bedrooms with a maid's room.

"Leny knows that I'd like my home to be a sanctuary and I replicate that in her room," Mrs Robinson said. "She does live with us and she's part of the family. I make sure she has nice living conditions."

Mrs Alzaga, who is a member of United Filipinos Foundation, said the couple supports her and her activities in the Filipino community. Mrs Robinson said: "Whenever she has meetings outside, we don't have a problem with it."

When the family is on holiday once or twice a year, they send Mrs Alzaga home to the Philippines. In June, Mrs Alzaga was able to spend three weeks with her three sons, Dzay Rex, 15, Mark Rodgel, 12 and John Vincent, 11, and her 13-year-old daughter, Maelyka, in Iloilo City.

"She's amazing and such a pleasure to have," Mrs Robinson said.

rruiz@thenational.ae