20 August 2011

My Housegirl

I finally got a housegirl!  We've been kind of half looking for someone to help me with housework.  It's very commonly done here when the woman of the house has a job, like me.  I've been functioning okay...not great...at multi-tasking, but my housekeeping would not be up to typical standards of most African mamas.

I might tempted to feel badly about this.  After all, the banner example for a Godly wife is the Proverbs 31 woman, who took care of her home and her family, did business and made fancy clothes for her kids.  Her husband and kids respected her.  I heard a sermon from Pastor Mark Driscoll on this topic one time in which he pointed out that she had a lot of help to achieve all this.  He was talking to American women, so he pointed out the dishwasher, oven, washing machine, etc. that help them take care of all this business.  He wasn't saying that it's cake for American women, just that the Proverbs 31 woman wasn't perfect and didn't do it all on her own.

I have a slightly less help from appliances than my working-wife American counterparts.  I've been asked to take more photos, and I have my camera, the cable for it, power and a fair internet connection, so here are photos of (in clockwise order):  my pantry, my dishwasher, my garbage can, my dish cupboard and my stove.  It's super glamorous, so don't be too blown away.  The garbage can is the size of the kind someone might keep under their office desk.  It serves the entire house, but we only have to empty it every four or five days.  That's good, since all garbage here is burned in a pit behind the house.  Most of ours is organic, aside from the occasional bleach bottle.
Of course, clothes are also a big thing.  We had been having a teenage boy who lives with our bishop wash our clothes every Saturday for about $2.  Then Fred's favorite t-shirt went missing, only to be found a few weeks later being used a mop at the bishop's house because no one knew whose it was.  Fred saved it in time, and it's still in good condition, but that was the last straw.  I was about to have to take over all the clothes washing, where previously I had only been doing our underwear and some emergency items that couldn't wait for Saturday.  This is my washing machine and you can kind of see the dryer in the background by the goat.

Now, as of Friday morning, I have a new dishwasher, washing machine and general cleaning agent.  Her name is Stella.  Her first day she got right to work, doing all the things I hate: washing the floors and the pots and the rugs and the curtains.  This all took her about four hours, with a tea break.  It would have taken me at least a day, maybe two.  Today she came back for her regular shift of 8am to 1pm, but there's no water today, and hasn't been all week.  Nearly all our buckets are empty, so she folded the clothes she washed yesterday, swept and mopped the kitchen and living room again, did the dishes, then I put a movie on for her while I work, and she promptly fell asleep.
Actually, she's great.  She speaks Swahili, and is really patient communicating with me.  If she gets that I'm not understanding her question, she's show me what she wants by miming.  She works hard (when there's work to do), and is quiet and stays out of my way.  Really, I could ask for nothing better.  Right now she lives with a family nearby, but eventually she might come live with us, especially when it gets closer to the baby coming.  She's excited about the baby, and totally okay with washing dirty nappies (diapers).  All this for $25 per month!  We'll start paying her more as time goes by and she sticks with us.  We might also start giving her a chance to learn tailoring or some other trade, so that if/when she leaves us one day, she'll be better educated and trained than when she joined us.

Anyway, that's where we're at now.  I'm excited to not have to wash dishes and she's happy to have an easy job where she can take naps and watch movies.  Plus, you got the emotional rollercoaster of feeling sorry for me when you saw pictures of my kitchen, then of feeling jealous of me because I have an awesome house-girl.  It's a win-win-win!

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