Former Domestic Worker Owns a School

Vicky Abraham, Freelance Writer

She is an Imbokodo (grinding stone) who played a pivotal role in the lives of several families in Gauteng, South Africa. She is a woman with aspirations, has the drive and the edge. Some probably called her Aunty, Nkhono or Gogo (granny), Helper, Mme wa Washene (a woman who specialises in washing clothes), Cleaner, Maid, Nanny or Domestic Worker.

However, these names rather confined her in a box of those who believed they are superior than her. Such are those who doubtlessly believed that she was destined to cooking, washing dishes for her bosses, making beds, cleaning toilets and scrubbing floors.

But they did not know that she yearned to live a cushy lifestyle – in a mansion, ensure her children obtain proper education, eat decent meals, perhaps wear designer clothes, have a good cash inflow – be pampered: go to a spa, do manicures and pedicures, chauffeured around in expensive cars or drive her own beautiful car. Above all, she yearned to be a leader.

Mrs Onkgomoditse Victoria Bomouan (41), a former domestic worker from Roodepoort in South Africa, spent four years of her career smelling, tasting and touching wealth in her employers’ stately homes. But come holiday times, she was welcomed back to a one-bedroom mud-home in Ganyesa, Vryburg in the North West province, owned by her grandmother and shared with ten of her family members.

Unlike many, who have taken their dreams with them to the grave, Bomouan is among the few domestic workers who have proven that it is possible to fulfil her dreams. She is a living testimony that she was not destined to work as a domestic worker for rest of her life. But she was predestined for greater things in life. Bomouan who worked as a domestic worker for different employers is currently director and owner of a nursery school and a primary school, Ruach Christian School (Holy Spirit in Hebrew). The school starts from grade R and ends at Grade 7. It is also in the final stages of being extended to Grade 12. “I came to Joburg in 2000 from Vryburg and lived in Tembisa. I got a job as a domestic worker in Clubview in Centurion. I was getting paid R50 per day and I worked on Saturdays only. Therefore, I was getting paid R200 per month. It was a lot of money then.

The owner of the house that I worked for gave me bedding stuff and I was excited. He would give me food and raw food and clothing and all the stuff for babies. But I did not have a child by then.” Bomouan did her work as a domestic worker with pride and love. She enjoyed the work and never had challenges.“My mom was very strict. She had taught me housework at the age 12. Therefore, I did not experience challenges in my job as a domestic worker. I was just relaxed in my job. I would clean my first employer’s house, iron clothes and look after his son.” “I also worked in Midrand, but I did not stay long there because it was not safe for me as a woman. It was only men, and I did not feel safe. I worked for less than a month and left. I was getting paid R100 per day.” She was offered another job where earned R800 per month. Bomouan also worked as a nanny for her aunts’ children.

Her last job as a domestic worker ended at Rumisig in Roodepoort, South Africa where she earned R70 per day.Her passion to look after children including her aunt’s and love for them, made her to overlook the fact that she was not getting paid money for her work, but she was only receiving food in return.“I used to look after my aunt’s kids as well.

They would not give me money but a plate of food because there was no food at home. My mom was working but there was not enough money.”While she worked as a domestic worker, she envisioned herself as a bank teller and a Gospel singer.“I wanted to work as a bank teller at the bank because I studied accounting, business economics and typing as part of my subjects at high school. I was using a typewriter at that time. You know those old typewriters, whereby when you make a mistake you have to discard all the work that you have typed,” she chuckled. “I did not pass matric. I could not further my studies because I did not have funds to. I and four of my siblings, and six of my aunts’ children depended on my grandmother’s pension grant.”

Looking back at her desire to work in the bank she said, “I realise that it was not in line with God’s plan for my life.” “I grew up in Sunday School and I was singing opera music. I wanted to be a gospel musician. Currently, I sing in the church. I had saved up money to record my album. But I did not record it. It will happen in God’s timing.”She also worked as a hawker, “I would sell boiled eggs and sweets on the streets.” She would pack her stock in a trolley because she did not have a car. Her husband would push it for her and place it on a street where she was selling to her customers. “I did basic computer studies in 2006 when I was pregnant with my first son, so that I could learn how to type and use a fax machine.”

“My husband then introduced me into the business of vehicle registration, licence and number plate.” They have successfully managed to secure major car dealers as their clients.It was through the car registration business that they were able to buy their first house, then the second house. The plan to start a nursery school was birthed because her son was constantly getting sick at the school. She said the place was unhygienic.“He would get sick because the place was not neat. They were not looking after the kids properly at crèche.

Former domestic worker, Mrs Victoria Bomouan and her husband, Dr Maurice Bomouan, who is a former car guard are a living testimony that all things are possible in life.

The meal was not well balanced. They would eat tined-fish and rice every day. My son would be constantly sick. I then said to myself, ‘now it’s time to start what I have the passion for’,” said the mother of three.She did not have formal background to start a nursery school, but through the guidance of one of her church members who is an educator, she and her husband were able to register it as NPO. She and her husband lived in a one-roomed bedroom flat which they shared with another occupant.In 2006, they were able to buy their first house, and it was turned into a nursery school in 2011. Bomouan’s husband, Dr Maurice Bomouan said the crèche accommodates children from different ethnic groups and religious background.

“We are a Christian home, but the Muslim parents allowed their children to attend the school. Parents from Malawi, Nigeria and Ethiopia also enrolled their kids. They did not have a problem even though we are a Christian home. Muslim parents allowed us to teach their children the Bible. They did not even complain that the food was not halaal,” said Dr Bomouan. Elated Mrs Bomouan said, “I praise the Lord when I think about what He has done for me. When we learned that the school is already approved for registration, I was very excited. I sang to the Lord. The school has been in operation for year. I am so excited, I thank.”She said it took her almost 21 years to achieve her goals.Reflecting on the effect of Covid-19 on her business she said, “I don’t like to talk about the past it makes me to feel like crying.””Covid-19 has affected not only us but all nations ,all race ,poor or rich, we have learned how to trust the Lord in good and bad times. I leaned on Psalm 27, that’s my favorite Chapter.”

“Our finances were affected (due to Covid-19) so badly,and we were closed for six months, no work , no salary, but we were making sure we updated the parents concerning the opening of the centre (creche) which was from April to September 2020. Remember, the school (primary school) was only opened this year.