Over the last few months we have noticed that Jonipher hasn't been working that hard. After she leaves I am often finding things to dust everywhere and realizing what she didn't do during the day. We have asked her, showed her, almost begged her to wash her hands with soap several times a day, but still she won't do that. She also hasn't respected the hours of our contract: she'll come late most days and then think it is OK to stay late in the evening, which we don't like at all. No matter how many times I have talked to her about being on time, she is never in a rush to get here and is unapologetic about it. So in the end, even though she cooks nice vegetarian food and does a good job with our laundry and is pleasant to have in the house, we decided that her slacking was stressing us out too much. She would be better off with a family who wasn't as concerned about some of these issues or maybe someone who isn't in the house most of the time to see what she is or isn't doing.
She seemed genuinely surprised and had explanations for each of our critiques; she asked to be put on a warning system and for us to reconsider, but the warning system didn't work with Ida and it is too awkward when the employer (me) is around all the time. We compensated her well (3 months severance, which is A LOT in Kenya) and provided her with a general reference letter because we do think she is a nice person and hope she can get another job that is maybe a better fit for her. As Jonipher was leaving she said to Kristoffer, "I hope you don't think I've been stealing," which is an indication to us that at some point she probably has stolen from us (and that is not a total surprise either...a couple of times something has mysteriously gone missing and we have wondered if she was responsible). Yikes.
In the end she went nicely and politely and said she would love to come back if we changed our mind. There was no screaming or drama or trying to take our things, as when we let Ida last year. And so now we are left to figure out what to do next. There are a few realities that we are dealing with:
- As expats, we are expected to employ Kenyans
- Kenya is very, very, very dusty (you can dust the whole house from top to bottom one day, and then the next day see the new layer of dust)
- We have a very big house
- I am increasingly pregnant with an active toddler who likes my attention 150% of the time, if possible, and will eventually not be pregnant but will have a newborn and that same active toddler
We have to figure out exactly what kind of help we need and what kind of schedule would actually be helpful for our family if someone works in our home. We are hoping to find someone young (in her 20s...unlike me, sad), because a lot of the attitude I have gotten from the women we've hired has seemed related to their age over mine. We are also going to interview more people this time than we have in the past and in the meantime, we'll be a bit busier with housework than we normally are.
After almost three years in Kenya, employing staff and having people work in our home is still the thing that we dislike the most and are probably the worst at. It is uncomfortable and awkward and stressful...because it is cultural, personal, emotional, and professional all at the same time. I feel we are learning each time and one day - some day! - like so many of the more experienced expats we know, we will get it right.