I’m sitting here at my desk writing this literally 10 minutes after my housekeeper saved my life. Dramatic much?!

I have just returned from dropping my husband at the airport for a work trip, I came downstairs and there was a huge black wasp flying around the living room. I had the freakouts to end all freak outs. You see, I am deathly allergic to bees, wasps and ants… yes that’s right ants. About 3 years ago I was bitten by an ant in our house in Doha. I went into anaphylactic shock and had to race to emergency, where the doctor informed me I had about 15 minutes left to live. Like I said, dramatic much?!

I’m always armed with an EpiPen and I have a few stashed around the house for good measure. My helper, Marissa, could hear me screaming and came racing out and I was yelling at her “wasp! wasp!” she was like “what’s a wasp?” and I’m yelling at her “get the bug spray, I’m going to die”. So there she is, my 50-year-old Filipino housekeeper, acting like a gangsta and killing that wasp and then marching around the house to make sure he didn’t bring any of his friends inside.

Marissa has been with us for 9 years, she knows the ins and outs of our family and today she didn’t even hesitate to get in there and save me, without even an eye-roll, even though I was screaming and running around like a banshee.



Throughout the years Marissa has always been there to back me up and support me no matter what. She has done far more for this family than just cleaning the floors and babysitting. She is an integral part of our household and someone that I cherish so much even though there are days we both drive each other up the wall. Marissa has sat with me and taken care of me after 4 miscarriages. She helped with my medications when we were going through fertility treatment and has helped me navigate through motherhood. So although today, she literally saved my life, she has figuratively been saving my life, our lives, for 9 years.

One of the perks of our families expat world is being able to have Marissa. I have never once felt guilty for having a live in home help, for having Marissa. I can’t imagine life without her now and its one of the things I worry about if we ever have to move anywhere where she couldn’t be with us. I know one day that day will come but I try not to think about it. I know every day we are extremely lucky we are to have Marissa, but today we were especially lucky!

Sarah Derrig is a seasoned expat from Australia who has spent the last 11 years living in the UAE, Qatar and back to the UAE