You may have noticed that my first post, which outlined an experiment I’m going to document in this bog, got quite a few responses. I’d like to comment on one of those responses specifically :
this idea of yours seems a bit odd… firstly; i assume this domestic worker is poor right? how exactly is she gonna access the internet and see all these job opportunities that await her??? provided any exist in the first place.
another thing, even the big cities have lil notices outside their local shopping centre which appear to be quite useful. perhaps it’s because people need jobs in their local area and this is the easiest, cheapest and possibly only way to find employment near by. opening up a facebook site leave this woman with possible opportunities that may be completely useless to her for numerous reasons, such as transport problems. perhaps this method that you are so against isn’t necessarily bad, perhaps it works and that’s why it’s used!
and do you think it’s fair to refer to this small city as a ‘dorpie’?
also for someone so ‘concerned’ about the unemployed you seem very flippant about the beggars on the pavement with their sad faces!
think about your project and your choice of words!”
Perhaps I do have a “flippant”, dismissive way of referring to beggars. But I am sick of their sense of entitlement.
Because I walk everywhere in Grahamstown I am continuously being nagged by beggars: “Oooh Sisi … some bread … bring back”. They seem to book certain sections of the pavement from which they never move.
On my route to and from the journalism department I pass a minimum of three beggars everyday. I do feel guilty that I have seemingly so much while they seem to cling to life by tatters.
But a part of it is too easy to me. They just sit there and make passers-by feel guilty. They ask for money and bread and one even told me she needed my water. Well I hate to break it to you but I paid R5, 00 for that water and I need it too.
Does that make me flippant, arrogant, elitist, and not-politically correct? I don’t care. When did it suddenly become acceptable to beg? We’re so quick to dismiss people who come to us with their CVs and ask for jobs, as I describe in my first blog post, and yet they are the ones trying to make something of themselves. Why are we happy to just walk past those who just sit there and allow them to profit from our guilt? If my words arouse offense, then challenge me or better yet go out and do something about it.
I’m not saying begging doesn’t degrade one ; that it doesn’t rob one of dignity but it has somehow become something that’s socially acceptable and because the currency of begging is guilt it becomes more lucrative than looking for a job in places like Grahamstown. A sick reality.
So, I hope you did feel horribly offended by my first post and the ridiculous idea that unemployed domestic workers should “book a pavement corner; practice putting on their sad faces and wait for the passers-by to empty their pockets”. Because then I have achieved something; no matter how small.
As for my actual project, I have decided to modify it slightly. I came across a website which acts as a type of online employment agency for all sorts of workers from domestic workers to painters. Though it is a South African website , they only offer the service in the Pretoria, Centurion, Midrand, East Rand and North Rand areas.
I thought a service like this could be very effective in Grahamstown. It would work in a similar way to the notice boards in Pick ‘n Pay except it would be electronically available and searchable. A break down of the project follows:
- Set up a blog which will host this online classifieds. This will only deal with domestic workers seeking work in the Grahamstown area.
- Contact the domestic workers whose notices appear on notice boards around town and ask them if they would like to have their details registered on the blog. There will be no registration fees involved and I will be responsible for entering the information and for the maintenance of the blog.
- All those who register on the blog will be registered on a Twitter group – this will give prospective employees an easy and effective way of contacting domestic workers. They will also be made members of a Facebook group.
- I thought it might be useful to register the domestic workers on The Grid but it doesn’t seem to be used in Grahamstown.
- This blog will then be advertised offline at places like Pick ‘n Pay.
This would be more sustainable than my initial idea and it could provide a service, in the form of the blog, which could outlast the actual experiment. The experiment will still be exploring the utility of social media in the form of facebook. I don’t know how effective the facebook group will be but perhaps that is the point; perhaps it will indicate that social media is not as inclusive as it is made to seem.