Friday, December 19, 2008

Tet Chaje!*

*means "What a headache!" or something similar. Learn to learn to use this phrase in Kreyol and you're pretty much set...

As blan with more resources at our disposal than the average Haitian, we are expected to hire someone to work for us. This is not something that either of us was comfortable with but we finally agreed to hire Anne, the woman who works for our landlord. Anne comes for a 1/2 day once a week to clean for us and do a little laundry. After a rocky start to the relationship (someday I should devote an entire blog post this story!) we've grown to really like and trust her. She's 23, unmarried, has a 5-year old daughter, has never been to school and is taking night classes to learn how to read. She's super-spunky and has money invested in a community savings co-op with long-term plans to start her own small business.

Having her work for us has caused some tension between us and our landlord's wife and mother-in-law. They think we pay her too much (because they pay her outrageously too little) and we aren't "strict" enough with her. Racism runs deep in Haitian culture: they are light-skinned and, needless to say, Anne is very black. They yell at her and call her names, won't let her drink their filtered water or touch the children. She works for them everyday (and they call her in most Saturdays, too) from about 8 AM-6 PM for a little over $50 a month. And even though they referred her to us, they've started giving her extra work to do on the days that she cleans for us.

This morning they fired her. They think she is "arrogant" and "impertinent" (part of why we like her so much!) and I think they've been looking for an excuse to let her go. But now they don't want her working for us either. It's taken us a long time to get used to having someone work for us, even if it's only once a week. We've developed a relationship with Anne, we trust her, and she does a good job. We don't want someone else to work for us. But, we also live in the same compound as our landlord and his family and can't afford to destroy that relationship.

Tet chaje!

3 comments:

Nanci Erkert said...

Achaa for househelp problems. I'm hoping that we can get by without any this time around, but you've reminded me that lots of factors can enter into the decision. May the Lord give you wisdom when it comes to Anne.

Rebecca said...

So sorry to hear this! Such a hard position to be in. Personally, I would leave it up to Anne. If she wants to continue to come to the house despite the tension, she should be able to. You have no reason to let her go from your place. don't talk about it directly but keep treating your landlords with respect (send down some Christmas cookies) and I think it will just blow over. They (your landlords) want/need your money too!

Troy and Tara Livesay said...

Tet chage net! Wow, sorry to hear about your struggles - we can relate. Hope to meet you two someday.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...