01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Tying myself in knots... 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Tying myself in knots...

Many thanks for all your constructive comments´╗┐ on hand-outs, all extremely valid.  I'm afraid to labour a point and promise not to discuss this again in future posts for some time (at least a week or two), but still, I am in hot water!  Don't get cross!  If nothing else, I think it does help to illustrate what it's like for the well meaning expat living here in Kenya.

This week's dilemma has found me trying to manage a self inflicted situation that I've got myself in vis-a-vis my house helper's daughter who didn't do very well in her exams but was keen on hairdressing or doing something to do with hair and beauty.  After she finished school, she found herself just sitting around at home and so, like a fool, I got involved.

I found a place for the girl in question, doing some work experience at a local salon, under a lady whose training at 'Revlon Hair and Beauty' was paid for entirely by a local charity.  I thought, this would be a good starting point, ie. to work for someone who has been helped enormously by other people's good will.

The cost of transport was going to be a lot to get to and from the salon (100/- per day) so, to start off with I offered to pay.   Initially this plan went well.  The salon is always busy, the house help's daughter was enjoying the work but after around 3 months, I wanted to know how the situation might become more sustainable, so I raised the subject of what might come next.  Would the lady with the salon consider paying her intern's transport?  Or perhaps contribute something toward the cost of her doing a short hair and beauty course in town, if her intern promised to fill her spare time working for the same salon?

My plan backfired.  The Salon lady said that the intern should strictly speaking have been paying HER to be getting all this free experience and there is no way she can pay anything toward transport or training. (Nice, considering she got to where she is today due to other people's charity).

I suggested, the intern (our house help's daughter) raise her transport costs herself by doing some hairdressing for people near where she lives at home.  Our house help said that this wouldn't work because her daughter didn't have money for the materials she needs.  I said,

'why not get customers to buy their own materials (ie hair extensions etc) and let your daughter charge for labour only - surely this would be a good deal for customers as it would work out cheaper than visiting a salon?'
'Maybe' was the answer.
Now I am faced with the dilemma of whether to continue paying for transport to the salon where she continues to work for free.  Or whether to pay 20,000 for a short course on hair and beauty training myself.   Everybody seems to love to have certificates here and they assume this is the only way to get yourself a job.

 - What I have decided to do is;
1.  stop giving transport money and suggest our house help's daughter find a Salon she can do work experience at nearer to home.  I said,
'Since the lady is not interested in helping your daughter, then I would rather be investing in scissors and equipment for her so she can do freelance work than pay this transport any more.'
(having said that, I hope that the 3 month work experience has been a help).
2. Postpone any idea of doing a course as she would have already mastered a lot of its contents through her practical experience anyway.
3. Stop giving away my husband's hard earned cash, which is consequently playing havoc with our budgeting.  I should sort myself out with gainful employment instead!

The nice house help (who has worked for us for years, who by the way, is a really valued employee) has another daughter who has just completed a costly 2 year course, training to be a pharmacist.  I did not help at all with these fees or get involved.  The graduation was a few months ago and our house help took the day off to go and watch her get her certificate. 

But, needless to say, after all the training, a job has not been forthcoming.  I suggested our house help ask around at our local chemists to see if there might be any job leads.  Apparently there was one.  The househelp's second daughter followed it up.  The job was in town.
Apparently the prospective employer had said, 'I can only pay you 5,000 per month.' 

The daughter said, 'well, it's going to cost me 3,000 in transport per month - so no thanks.' 

When I heard this, I feel like wringing my hands!

'At least your daughter would have been getting practical experience, this job might have led to more money later.  At least you daughter would have been working with her transport and lunch covered.  She would have been better off than just sitting at home!  People who have graduated are always very proud because they have worked hard to get their qualification.  I was like this too but practical experience is always so important!'

Our house help said she told her daughter all this, but apparently it hadn't helped.

On a lighter note, here is a picture of our (almost) finished pool!!  It has been fantastic, especially during this hot spell (for hot spell, read: dry season or even more pertinent: drought).  But  there are still a few workmen hanging around - doing finishing jobs here and there.  They are roofing a gazebo that was originally sitting redundant in another corner of our garden.  These gusy seem to be taking their time, enjoying the 11 O'clock tea and jam sandwiches that they get.  So, over the past couple of weeks, whenever the kids swim after school (quite often either screaming with hilarity or else having embarrassing physical fights) it's in front of a wrapt audience.  I haven't been in in weeks.

My youngest daughter spent a week and a half wearing her 'uniform', of jeans, shirt and tie but over the past two days, abandoned it which must mean she's feeling more confident and has adjusted back into school life.  I even managed to get her into a pretty skirt yesterday which was nothing short of a miracle!

The eldest is enjoying her violin.  She's had two lessons so far.  I went to one and the teacher was surprised to see me - obviously a communication problem there with the head of music who had told me that I should attend.  I just read something in a UK newspaper supplement about 'Chinese Dragon' parenting - where it says you should be strict with your children in order to achieve results, never let them give up and this will drive them to be motivated people in future life.  As you can imagine after the week I've had, the message really hit home. 

As a result, the short bursts of revision we've sandwiched between other homework, music practise, birthday party dates etc have been fraught.  However, she's only 10.  I think I need to take a chill pill. 

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