Thursday, February 12, 2015
“If you fulfill the wishes of your workers, the workers will fulfill your vision.” ― Amit Kalantri
It is one thing to run a shop and have employees. The relationship is pretty standard, employer—employee, but having workers who are with you all day long, five to six days a week, who are in your home, and without whose good work your mission would not succeed—that is a different thing entirely. They are almost like extended family, especially if they have been with you for up to ten years and have embraced our concept of mission. We have watched them all gain weight (a good sign here), we have watched as their children grew up, we have paid school fees, medical bills, and, sadly, occasionally funeral bills as well. We pay them well, far above what others pay for the same service, and we pay all their social security without deducting anything from the wages they receive. In American dollars, it doesn’t seem like a lot, about $1,200 a month for seven, full-time workers (not counting school fees, etc.) who have learned to accept and mostly understand our odd non-African ways. They have learned to love dogs (very rare here) and even have their favorites (Juliana always gives scraps to the oldest first then to the others). They all love the little Tibetan Terrier and will sit and pet her (Tanzanians traditionally fear all dogs). Two or three have taken puppies home which have thrived under their care and are doing excellent work as guard dogs. One would be robber was chased away by one of them. Not knowing the word for “bite,” we were told that the dog ate the robber, but in any case word gets around to avoid that house—which is good because at least three of them have been robbed of almost everything which is very sad. We cannot afford to re-outfit an entire house, but we give them what we can to help out. They love working here so much that will come even when they have malaria, and we have to send them home and give them money for medicine (and make sure they buy it). They have to miss work for the funerals of neighbors (one day) and family (three days) or they are fined by their family or community for not helping. We usually send a few dollars with them for the funerals for neighbors as they are expected to help pay for the food needed. They also all must agree never to talk about what they see here because telling others that we have a television or DVD player or have American guests will invite thieves. We have been very lucky, but we have had one or two over the years that had to be fired for showing up drunk or stealing, but all who are working here now make us very happy, and only one has been here less than four years. She replaced a worker who had been with us eight years and then moved back to her home village across Lake Victoria. We came as missionaries and not employers, but there is no way we could do what we do or run the mission effectively without our staff. No one trains you for this, and we have made mistakes, but the one thing our training did teach us was to laugh at our mistakes and not remake them but move on more wisely, and we have. When you pray for us, please remember our workers as well. They are an important part of the team God has assembled here.