Home Children Caroline Kinyanjui: I Have Been With My House girl for Thirteen Years

Caroline Kinyanjui: I Have Been With My House girl for Thirteen Years

22
SHARE

Caroline Kinyanjui, 38, has maintained one housegirl for the last thirteen years. Married with a 14 year old son Trevor, Caroline stands out among many moms I must admit. This is because it is quite difficult to maintain a housegirl for long in many Kenyan households today. Even managing a year is quite an achievement!!!

Nowadays is not like those days when our moms would maintain housegirls for years and years. Something seems to have gone wrong somewhere and I have no idea what it is because there seems to be a very high turnover of them in many homes.

Whether the problem lies with we as employers, or the housegirls as employees, or both – I don’t know. What I know is that I spoke to Caroline because I was curious to know just how she had managed 13 years with the same housegirl. The lady went to work at Caroline’s place when her son was just one year old. I had an interview with her for purposes of picking up any tips and advice on what she’s done (and not done). Here are details of that interview.

MT: Thanks Carol for agreeing to share your story. Where did you get your housegirl from?

Ck: I got her from the Salvation Army Girls Centre in Kariokor, Nairobi

MT: How old is she?

CK: She is now 36 years old

MT: How has your experience with her been?

CK: I would say pleasant. She had previously worked in similar settings as my household, so the settling in for her was easy. Besides, she was easy to train around what my requirements were. The Salvation Army Girls’ center also equips them with training on basic things like cooking, cleaning and home management so this made things easier already.

By the way I had no time to train her as my previous housegirl had left for the ‘village’ and not returned as agreed, so I found myself in a very stressful situation one Monday morning.

MT: What qualities does SHE have that you think have enabled her to stay with you that long?

CK: I would have a long list but let me zero down to what really matters in any human interaction:

Honesty – she is very honest as when she messes, she will always inform me even if it means calling me when I am at work.

Respect – she respects boundaries. She has never crossed the line I would say.

Responsibility – I can trust her to run my home when I travel. And whenever I give her time or days off, she will always come back on the agreed date without fail.

Taking initiative – when my son Trevor was younger, she would spot issues in good time. I remember she was the first one to notice that he was uncomfortable when he had a condition called phimosis and immediately notified me.  She also notices when my dogs are unwell and alerts me in good time.

MT: What qualities do YOU have that you think have made her stay that long?

CK: I am patient; I don’t dismiss someone without giving them time to prove themselves.

I also respect contracts; I have never paid her late even for one month. Her contract says that she should be paid by the last day of the month, and I pay her by the 27 or 28th day of the month.

People tell me I am diplomatic in the way I approach issues, maybe this has helped on those days when we have to discuss issues of performance or when things going wrong.

MT: Do you allow her to discipline your child?

CK: No – disciplining my child is my sole responsibility.  Her work is to report any wrong doing to me. So my son knows she is an authority in that way.

MT: You mentioned you give her days off…

CK: Sunday is her official off day. Public holidays are free for her as well.  I also allow her to go off during Christmas and Easter Holidays. Her contract allows for an annual leave but she prefers to get a pay instead of taking the days off.

MT: When she falls sick, who takes care of her bills?

CK: I have always paid for medical consultation and cost of medicine whenever she falls sick.

MT: Are there any restrictions on the use of some basic stuff in your house?

CK: In my house there are no restrictions in terms of access to toiletries and food. My store is open so she can access soaps, toothpaste and the like.  I give her some amount over and above her salary or a shopping voucher at the end of the year. I have always done this from the day I employed her, I guess I realized I had a gem from the word go.

MT: Do you treat her like a friend, a sister, or do you have a ‘strictly business’ approach?

CK: I treat her like I would treat a relative, say a cousin. I make sure she is comfortable and I always ask her about the welfare of her family, just to make sure that they are okay. If there are issues she will always tell me and I follow up with her later to show concern and sometimes even offer her my opinion. It makes me understand her better and the issues she could be dealing with. Sometimes when I notice some family issues could be disturbing her, I give her like a weekend off to go and settle them.

MT: What advice would you give fellow moms about how to relate with their nanny?

CK: First of all is to know that you leave them with the most valuable item – your young ones. So don’t be mean to them. Some mistakes are negligible, so save your energy and fights for serious issues. Relate to them as human beings, they could be going through personal issues which by extension may affect their work. In short, get to know your employee.

MT: There are those who say that no matter how well you treat a housegirl, they will still do you bad. What would you say about that?

CK: In all spheres of life relations there are people who will do you bad however well you treat them and it also applies to the world of nannies but not all are bad. It all depends on luck and the relationships you create. Human beings are meant to be social in nature and chances are you will find that when you treat them nicely, you get the same treatment in return. Just treat them well, give them space.  Imagine they are employees just like you might be an employee of an organization.

MT: Thank you Caroline for sharing your experience with us.

So, anyone else who has managed to keep a housegirl for many years and would be willing to share their tips too? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com so that I can share your tips too with fellow moms.

Editor’s Note: I don’t have the contacts of the Salvation Army Girls Center in Kariokor. 

You may Also Like to Read:

12 Questions to ask When Interviewing a House Girl

I’ve Been with my House Girl for 9 Years. Here’s What I’ve Learnt so Far that has Helped us Stay that Long

The Day I Found out my House Girl was HIV Positive 

Mummy Tales is a blog dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of maternal and newborn health, as well as various issues surrounding motherhood and women. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms hereFollow Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l INSTAGRAM l TWITTER 

Comments

comments

22 COMMENTS

  1. Mary Anne…. Waah. Caroline must be one lucky woman. The house girl must be 1 in a million. I long and pray for the day I will have one hit the 5 year milestone. I have employed house girls mpaka I can’t remember all theirs names wacha tu the list is long. Through experience I have learnt however much you are kind to them you treat them well and make them part of the family, if the girl’s attitude is not right then it won’t work. Mid last year I got a girl whom I had high hopes of. We used to have woman to woman talk, she fit perfectly well in our home. Every one was heaping praise on her. She took good care of Me after delivery. Kumbe alikuwa chui amevalia ngozi ya kondoo. Si alinigeuka. To cut the long story short we parted company early this after she gave me a dress down like I was a two year old. Two days after she left she sent a rela to talk me into taking her back. God vindicates and he has blessed us with an awesome helper who is a blessing to us. Treat them well like human beings after all being a house girl is not a dream career it’s due to unfortunate circumstances in their lives. In the event you meet one rotten apple don’t lose hope God will provide an angel.

    • Sorry Lucy about your experience. However, we need to stop feeding people that being a house help, gardener, conductor, farmer etc is an unfortunate and temporary situation that needs to be gotten out of asap! On the contrary, we need all these people in our lives and the best we can do is to validate their work, and position and make them proud to be doing it. From teachers who tell students “If you don’t work hard you will end up a house girl, conductor, farmer etc…” Gosh, that is so shallow – there is nothing wrong with being a nanny, conductor or janitor for that matter! It IS important work that needs due recognition, structure, professionalism and respect. There needs to be a paradigm shift and it starts with us employers:
      Do we write and explain Job descriptions?
      Do we orient sufficiently?
      Do we spend time (and even money if need be) to train – just as we receive training at work?
      Do we give clear expectations – not just of work but even on how to engage with each member of the family right from the word go?
      Do we motivate?
      Do we give due respect? – privacy, time off, – speak to them respectfully, correct them in privacy etc
      Do we make them stakeholders in the family eg – explain the implication of wastage on finances and ultimately what that might mean for their pay? Even pray together ?
      Do we have regular fora for dialogue – perhaps quarterly?
      Do we appraise them at least annually?
      Finally do we acknowledge work well done and even offer small reward or do we just see the wrongs? (I personally struggle with this one :-))

      There is really no need to turn them into sisters – I have found that having boundaries is very important but for goodness sake, lets be civil and fair in our dealings with them and release one quickly but respectfully if your fundamental needs are not being met. With time, we can make this a proud trade for people to aspire for – not a transitional role to be pitied. #mytwocents.

  2. Caroline is blessed, she should thank /god for that. Tell Carol to give her an opportunity to share her life with other house girls on public television. It will help mothers and house girls.

    Caroline you are blessed and your house girl too.

  3. Has the housegirl agreed to have her son’s picture plastered on the internet?

    We really should respect people’s privacy, no matter their station in life.

  4. CK I so envy you on this. I have a good Nanny currently, I keep praying she stay looooooooooooong with us.
    @Larela please read to see that is Trevor CK’s son and not her Nanny’s child.

  5. Wow!! Carol, that’s an inspiration. Indeed we still have good nannies out there. We may have heard or experienced a few nasty ones to a point of giving up but I can attest that some are gems. I currently have one who has been with us for 5 years and going. She is like family to us. I pray God she stays that way. A focused girl and mother of two boys.

  6. Just employed a Nanny who is fresh from shags doesn’t know her way around the house but am willing to train her..question is..will she cope?

    • Hi Caroline, the best way to know if she can cope is give her a chance. And be patient as you train her, then give her time. Some nannies fresh from shaggz have lasted in some houses for years. All the best and let me know how it goes.

  7. Good job Caroline!
    I have also had my nanny for the last 10 years, since my daughter was 1yr, now 11 years. I thank God for her & always praying for her.

  8. My mum stayed with our housegirl from 1988-2006 they are like sisters. They we the same age,she got married but every time kids are on holiday she releases them to come keep my mum company and also spend time with grand mum(my mum). She treats all of us equally,we have basically grown up with her in our life because she has been there for all five of us. When she visits my mum does not allow her even to wipe the table as long as we are there. I want when i have a family to have just one housegirl like mama.

    • I know your mom is blessed Shammy because of her kind gestures. So encouraging to hear about the love in your home. May you do the same when God blesses you with your family. Thanks for reading.

  9. I have had mine for 22 years. I can only say it is through God’s hand. This year she opted to go and take care of our village home due to her advanced age. Otherwise, we are still counting the years, thank you God!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here