I think I’m lucky to be raising my child in an environment where hard, manual labour is rewarded just as handsomely as brainwork, if not more. It’s a good feeling knowing people who uses their hands, sweat and often blood to build this nation gets due return than just the lot sitting inside air-conditioned offices reaping the benefits.
The reason I mention the sector of population involved in providing labour is because of a personal reason. It is to pay respect to the educators of the childcare centre that my child attends. Having moved back to Australia from Singapore recently – the mecca of cheap labour acquired from all around the world, and unfortunately having worked closely with some of these workers while living in Singapore, makes it quite impossible for me to blind myself to certain realities of this world. The reality of the exploitative nature of this business model, the supply and demand that is held in place for financial gains of big corporations and by extension the infrastructure of an entire country, suspending human development and progress of these workers and their respective countries. Top that off with my Bangladeshi heritage, a culture that is not keen on bestowing respect to the working class, in fact segregates them into a separate ‘caste’, severely condemning intermingling with the white collar.
After I gave birth, the first and foremost condition for any alternative care that I considered was that it be at par with the kind of care I am able to provide as a mother. And I don’t just mean the emotional or nurturing aspect of care. I mean the kind of values that I reflect and stand for, a similar level of intelligence with which I approach caregiving and with the added benefit of someone who has been professionally educated and trained to be able to do so, to aid a first time mother like myself. This is so we can learn and grow together as a community, as the village we ought to become in raising a child.
Hence it was distressing for me to realise that in most countries and cultures, raising a child is seen as a job that does not require intelligence, education, training or any of it. It surprises me that we expect to raise intelligent children by keeping them in the company of those who’s intelligence or ability we neither respect nor look up to. How does that make any sense?
In most southasian countries, caregivers tend to be people who has been forced due to poverty to do a thankless job that is neither respected in the community, nor compensated through monetary means and most importantly, a job that does not come with education or future progression.
A beautiful girl at my son’s daycare on his first day took him into her arms and loved him more than words could express. Sadly for us but amazing for her, she left the job end of last year to pursue a PhD in early childhood learning. This is what happens in a community that respects hard labour. You may not get as many skyscrapers but you certainly get a solid foundation.