I usually come into the office every morning with Phil, pray with his team and then leave for Amani after an hour or two. Yesterday, I decided I would stay at the apartment to catch up on some cleaning before coming over in the afternoon. As we were leaving the office for the day, one of Phil’s staff realized that she had not seen me earlier and asked why. The conversation went something like this…
Hey Mel, I haven’t seen you today. How are you?
Fine. Yeah, I stayed home this morning. How are you doing?
Fine. Oh sorry, so you overslept?
No, actually I was doing some cleaning.
What?!! You clean?!! (With her eyes bulging out of their sockets.)
Yes – I clean. (Smiling)
What do you mean, once a month, once a week, everyday?
Well, we don’t have house help, so I clean every day. But you know, some things only need done once a week or so. Like today, I was mopping our floors.
Haha – yes, seriously.
She was absolutely shocked. It was hilarious. You see, house help is so cheap here that it is very common to employ a lady to do your cleaning. Wouldn’t you at $50/month or less? Therefore, everyone just assumes that we hire someone to help us around the house. All the middle-class Kenyans do. And honestly, it is a good thing to give someone a job when you can. But Phil and I enjoy taking care of our place. It’s not a money issue, rather a comfort one.
But it’s still funny to go against the stereotype, and surprise our Kenyan friends that Yes, I do know how to clean, and I do it all the time. Trust me, they think Americans are a little crazy about this. You don’t have a nanny? You clean AND do laundry? You even do floors!
You do work very hard to take care of your families, my friends. Even if you don’t have a choice – we’re still proud of you.