Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Housekeeping (Part 2)

We have found a little angel. Her name is Pedzi.

Pedzi used to work at one of our neighbour's house and was the first person I interviewed to help me in the house with... everything. First pick seems to be the winning one so far as Pedzi is just lovely. She is a 27 year old single mum and comes from Chinhoyi, a little town situated a couple of hours out of Harare. We accommodate her in a little room with separate bathroom and cooking area just behind the house.

I'm sure the idea of having help and baby sitting “on tap” will make most of our friends a little jealous, but honestly, how could I cope with mountains of ironing, numerous window cleaning, no dishwasher, hosting quite a few visitors, and just the fact that the house seems to get dirty more quickly here?

Pedzi's official story is that she failed her O levels because her dad died the month of the exams and she had to look after her 3 younger sisters with her mum. She lives in a tiny house without electricity and is the main bread winner for her family (her mum, who sells tomatoes by the side of the road, her 5 year old son and a couple of sisters). Now, I've been told that this is the set story, but it all sounds plausible so I am going to believe it. And what I do know is that Pedzi really needed a job, and that when I told her that we were taking her on board, her smile was so beautiful that I knew she'd be motivated!

Her son is being looked after by her mum in her home town. Apparently, it is common for kids to be brought up by their grand-parents in Zim, a cultural fact that helps me to alleviate my sense of guilt to keep her away from him.

On the other side, I do feel uneasy when I compare her wage to our extremely high standards of living (for Zim!). It is not unusual for us to spend her monthly salary in a single shopping trip at the supermarket. What is “fairness” all about when the gaps are so huge and when where you are born is what makes you rich or poor? This is why we like being here, to be reminded that we haven't done anything to deserve what we have. The day I stop wrestling with the issue of justice (I don't have the answers), then I may as well go home.

For the last 2 weeks, we've gradually gotten used to each other. She is good company for the girls and myself. She is much tidier that I am, she has got a good sense of initiative, she works hard. She is a little angel.

Monday, 14 February 2011


Today was Valentine's day. Today, Ben bought a brand new washing machine and had it delivered to the house whilst he was at work. How romantic is that? Well, sadly that's made my day!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Housekeeping (Part 1)

Since I don't have a car yet (container packed with a car and our stuff has yet to leave the UK), I am pretty much housebound so I thought writing on this very exciting subject would be appropriate.

We still haven't got a washing machine. After running out of clean pants (actually, just before that), I decided to call on Juliet's help again to hand wash a bit of laundry. She asked me to buy a special laundry soap (a blue bar measuring about 50 cm so delicately scented), which is what most people use in Zim, and I showed her my very precious pack of imported non-bio Fairy powder. Laundry powder is expensive here and not good quality, so I was very proud to stick one of those in our hold luggage when we came for our 'recci' visit in October. No washing lines could be found anywhere, so we put the lot to dry on our wired fence. Job done.

Now, apparently in Zimbabwe, some little bugs lay their eggs on fresh laundry and you are at risk for those to gently nest into your skin and develop into beautiful worms. Obviously you don't realise you are hosting one until a little worm comes out of your skin and says hello. For that reason, every single item has to be ironed here. I decided to start the task using the ironing board that Ben had by miracle found, and subsequently bought, by the side of the road. Not such a good idea after all. I have a cramp in my wrist after just three knickers and four socks (the board is bending) and the cover is full of holes (it doesn't take the heat). I put a towel on top and carry on anyway only to realise that our t-shirt have gone shapeless, my Egyptian cotton towels look like they're coming out of Primark, the whole lot smells of cheap soap and a third of my precious powder has disappeared from the box. Juliet's hard work has paid off in making sure everything is spotlessly clean but that's not been very cost effective!

Ben's now in the process of buying a washing machine. And what a surprise, they are very expensive here. Whilst shopping around, he thought second hand would be a great option. He promised me that the one he saw looked fine, not too dirty or dated (I asked about yellowed plastic as a sign) and was even a branded one for a mere $150! So here comes the washing machine... and what appears to come straight out of the 70's (with this delicious brown finish). How cool, a 40 year old machine, can't wait to see how that works! In order for it to work, it needs a hot pipe to be fitted i.e. a day's plumbing work. Should I be sad that it is not working after all? Our hunt for the best buy washing machine is ongoing.