Tell us about Back to Basics
It’s a campaign to improve domestic safety for children within the home. Currently we have two bi-lingual books on First Aid with diagrams – in English/Sinhalese and English/Tagalog, so that both parents and domestic helpers can refer to it. I’ve set up a website that provides First Aid advice too, along with information on UAE Government-approved courses available. You can download free checklists to stick to your fridge so that you can make sure a place like the kitchen (where most domestic accidents happen) isn’t full of easily-avoidable hazards.
How did it come about?
I have two little boys, aged three, and nine months, and I was working full-time. I relied heavily on my home help but was constantly worried about safety issues. I was leaving post-it notes all over the place with emergency contact numbers, and although both my maid and I did a First Aid course, I felt it wasn’t enough. We were given print-outs with the course notes – but if English is your second language, they aren’t very helpful. That’s how I came up with the idea for the book.
You’re working with the UAE government to promote safety
That’s right. Unfortunately, the rate of children involved in domestic accidents in the UAE is 19 per cent above the world average, and a large percentage of those accidents are drowning- and burns-related. This is because the knowledge of safety in the home isn’t well developed. And it’s because a lot of people entrusted with childcare have no idea about basic First Aid. There has been a lot of red tape to work through, but the Dubai Health Authority and the Ambulance Service have been brilliant in backing the initiative.
It’s a full-time job?
Yes. I gave up my previous job and threw myself into it – and it’s taken on a life of its own. I started working on it two years ago and it’s become my passion. Now I work from home between 8am and 2pm on the campaign, and the rest of the time, I’m mum.
If you and your maid want to be First Aid-trained, what should you consider?
Bear in mind that if your maid takes a class with you, she might not feel comfortable because she’ll be worried about making a mistake in front of her employer. She would probably fare better in a class that’s made up of her own peers, so choose one that’s especially for maids. Secondly, refresh yourselves regularly. If you did a course two years ago, you might have forgotten a lot of important stuff. The Back to Basics book is there for that purpose. It is supposed to support a course. It is helpful on its own, but you should get some classroom training too. And remember, this is not just for the home help – parents need to start by setting the standards.
You’ve launched the book and the website. What’s next?
Lots of networking with mums’ groups etc to get the message out there! I’d love to run an advert on local television to highlight the importance of domestic safety too – and I really want to take this message across the Emirates. A mobile classroom, with a demonstration kitchen/bedroom set-up so we could take First Aid classes to more of the far flung communities where courses aren’t run, would be fantastic. I’m working on it!
Find out more and order the book for just Dhs85 by visiting www.backtobasicsuae.com.