Saturday, June 18, 2011

It Takes a Village

There's an African proverb which states; "It takes a village to raise a child." Well, ever since having Ethan, I've learnt this is true.

As we say goodbye to our home for the past 9 years, and Ethan's home since he was 2 months, we'd like to thank those villagers that aided in raising him.


We met Joel, I guess it was 7 or 8 years ago. He worked for our mate, Shannon, as a driver. Shannon had 2 kids, and Joel was fabulous with them. He was referred to Super Joel as there wasn't anything he didn't seem able to do. Right before leaving, Shannon and I were at lunch, discussing how the job she found for him had fallen through and she was worried about ensuring him a great position before she left. Just then Scott called. All I understood was accident and Total station. We skipped lunch and headed out. Sure enough, Scott had been in a car accident. He had stopped at a red light, when he was rear-ended by a petrol truck. Joel was, well, super. He got Scott out of the car safely, secured the car as now it was being surrounded by looters, assisted getting Scott to the clinic, and assisted with getting the car to the police station and all the paper work that needed filling. It was then Scott and I decided we needed a driver, and Joel would be it!

After Ethan was born, Joel proved to be invaluable. I didn't have a nanny as I was a SAHM, what did I need one for. But whenever I had an errand to run, Joel was there to assist with Ethan. He was better than any nanny we'd known. He'd record everything, and I mean everything. Ethan's bottles were put back in the fridge so I could see just exactly how much Ethan left behind (anywhere for an ounce to a drop), he'd tell me the time Ethan took the bottle, the time he'd put Ethan down, and the time Ethan actually fell asleep.

Later we got a nanny, but Joel was still important. He'd run around with Ethan, play football, and even babysit. We use to arrange for us to go out after Ethan was asleep. But one night Ethan wouldn't go down. I was ready to tear my hair out. Joel came. We handed him Ethan and wished him good luck. Later on we called, and according to Joel, Ethan was asleep within 10 minutes of us leaving! From then on, we let Joel put Ethan to bed when he was babysitting.

We always knew Joel was smart and deserved something more than a driver's job. So when Scott's company needed to hire someone to work down at the port, it was obvious Joel could handle it. For the past year and a half, Joel's been doing an amazing job with ACS. And he hasn't forgotten Ethan. He calls and visits, and for Ethan's 5th birthday, bought him this


Christina also worked for Shannon. When Shannon left, she arranged for Christina to attend school and earn a certificate in Montessori teaching. Christina invited me to her graduation. I was honoured. A few weeks later, we learnt we were expecting Ethan.

During my pregnancy and even after Ethan was born, I helped Christina find a job where she could use her certificate. There was a school opening, and Christina found a job there as an assistant. However, the school didn't last long. They did not get many students enrolling, and eventually, had to shut down.

When Ethan was 6 months, I was offered a teaching position at a school. I was unsure if I really wanted it. I also would need a nanny. It just happened that Christina called me to let me know she was unemployed. It was a sign. We hired Christina with the agreement that she had a job if I took the job. If I decided not to work, then it seemed ridiculous for us to have a nanny, but I would help her find something. 

Within a week I knew I didn't want the job, but we had agreed to keep Christina for a month. During this month I could go shopping, meet friends for coffee and not worry about scheduling it around Ethan's schedule. It was wonderful. So we decided while I wouldn't accept the teaching position, we did want Christina to stay with us.

For the last 4.5 years, Christina has been there for Ethan. She toilet trained him more than I did. She got him to eat when I would get frustrated. She encouraged him to be polite and friendly. She escorted him to all his playdates and welcomed his mates to our house. When I started working at IST, she then began to collect him from school and prepare his lunch. She knew his schedule of afterschool activities better than I did. She knew what days he had tennis, swimming, football, physio, who's house to play. She knew it all.


Omary joined us after Joel left. And since I was working full time at this point, it was up to Omary to collect Ethan from school and take him to his many playdates/activities without me. He had to learn where all Ethan's mates lived, without me there to guide him. He had to put up with me wanting to go places, but darn if I knew where it was. I could tell Joel I wanted something and Joel knew where to go. Omary had to know put up with my expectation that he'd do the same. I'm surprised he survived.

This year, Omary had double duty after school. He'd take Christina with him to fetch not just Ethan, but Isaac as well, home from school. He'd then listen to the two of them discussing whose house they'd be eating lunch at and ensure that not only was this done, and that Ethan made his scheduled activity/playdate, but was also back at school to collect me.


I forgot to get a picture of Ethan and Lunesia when she came this week.

I met Lunesia 6-7 years ago. I had started a small preschool, and she came to work for me there. After the school closed, she went on the work at the American Club as a cook. She knew I couldn't cook, and was worried about Scott and I. Once Ethan started on solids, I believe she feared he'd starve so she stepped in. Three times a week, after working a full day at the Marine House, she'd come on over to our place and cook us a few meals. She'd make things that could be frozen, and dinners for not just Ethan, but also Scott and I. She tried new recipes. She'd look through my gazillion recipe books and make suggestions for things Ethan and Scott might enjoy. My two boys are well fed because of her.

My life in Dar would not have been the same without them. They were not only invaluable to Ethan, but also to my sanity. Thank you for your presence in our lives. We shall always remember you.


Kim said...

Sounds like you have an amazing support system. I hope you will find the kind of friendships in Zambia that you have found in Dar.

Faiza said...

What an amazing village! A bright and beautiful one is waiting for you in Lusaka as well.