A Clean Start (pt. 4): A Step Up

Şişliİstanbul

It has been a little over a month and Amir and Adeena are starting to settle. They come to my house weekly to clean for a few hours to bolster their wages. Their boss has been asking them to work overtime for a 14hr shift. The two hour commute each way has also been taking a toll on them, as a packed van of migrants jostles around the steep hills in the north.

Their faces carry their tiredness into their one day off when they finally work for themselves. This week, however, promised a better future. A Clean Start now has clients. A few advertisements on ‘Foreign Women of Istanbul’ have been successful and a British lady asked for some help. It is small, but bi-monthly work to clean the stairs of an apartment building. The fee is 60TL(16.58USD) for the whole flight - comparatively 20 times more per hour than their regular work.

When we arrived, I talked with the lady about the job and made a brief introduction of Amir and Adeena. Their newness to the situation - meeting clients, freelance style work and in general ‘doing business’ - is easily seen by their sheepishness. The lady found it endearing. Even though I make the connections and ‘run’ the venture, I made it very clear that they should pay and communicate with Amir and Adeena; my position is a friendly manager not owner.

I left after a few minutes and continued my day. A few hours later I sent a message to the lady to ask about the work.

‘Hi Alastair, yep very happy, all went well! Scheduled another clean for 26th March, maybe even sooner if the neighbours prefer? Will keep you posted! Are they happy?? Best wishes’
— Sada, First Client

It was a success.

Next week we have a deep clean scheduled by Owen, the Director of Humanwire in Turkey that put us in touch in the first place. He has been very supportive of Amir and Adeena and has also been promoting the venture within his friend groups. It’s a one off completion job, but I’m trying to make it a monthly service.

So here we are, not too long after the venture started - we have a weekly cleaning service, a monthly and a one and done. It is an awkward change in their lives, but they take on this challenge calmly and boldly.