Ethiopia, just like the Philippines, has its own way of life that we assume upon arrival. As diplomats in this country we have been assigned a compound to take care of and keep as our own for the next few years. With that, comes the need for some help around here.
Day guard/gardener: Teklu is a very kind and helpful man. He opens the gate for us during the day and screens visitors for us. He checks our water tanks and makes sure things are generally in working order. He is also an excellent gardener. He prunes, waters, plants, mows, and all the other sorts of gardening things. Because he is here every day, Addie and Bella have come to enjoy playing outside and watching/helping him with the gardening. Mostly that means he stops what he is doing and helps them pick flowers, track ants, or play tag. Lucy has also become fond of Teklu because he always plays fetch. (Justin would like to call him Virginia Teklu, after his alma mater). I really like Teklu, mostly because he is trustworthy and dependable. Plus Addie drew him a picture of herself, Bella and Ash in the garden with Teklu and he proudly displays it above the door to the guards room.
Housekeeper: Eneye (pronounced Neee-yay): Eneye is our housekeeper. I was a bit nervous during our interview because she speaks very little English. I figured I’d give it a go and so far it’s worked out smashingly. We have come up with lots of creative ways to communicate. I made a chart for the weekly housekeeping activities by drawing tiny little mop buckets and laundry baskets. She’s a sweet lady who has her own three year old daughter and I find that it helps to hire a mother. Her motherly instincts are right on. She does all the cleaning (which is no small feet since the house is so massive), laundry, dishes, washing of the produce, and she watches the girls here and there. Addie and Bella welcomed Eneye into our home day one. They asked if she was our new Yaya and I basically said “sure”. That was that and Addie and Bella pulled her up to the play room to show her their toys. Ashlynn is doing ok with Eneye. It’s only been two weeks and I’m pleased that Ash will let Eneye hold her at times when I am cooking or trying to help the other girls with something. I left Bella and Ash with Eneye while I picked Addie up from school. When I came home Ash was crying but not hysterically, so we are making progress. I love that Eneye has the baby hold and bounce down. That’s key for helping out around here. I am enjoying having a clean house again and Eneye is a very efficient housekeeper. She doesn’t do any of the cooking yet but I am hoping to teach her a few simple recipes that I can ask her to make from time to time. I also plan on helping her to start doing the grocery shopping. I’ve surprised her with a few of my cooking tricks. I imagine it’s strange to see my American style cooking compared to her Ethiopian style cooking. She giggled a bit when I asked her to shove the entire onion and handful of parsley inside the chicken’s backside for roasting. I think she found the idea of a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch rather odd. But she’s a good helper in the kitchen AND she’s caught on to the cloth diaper thing right away. She’s a keeper.
Driver: Zahlalem is a young driver that we’ve hired on a recommendation from a trusted source. He’s 25 and ambitious and finding it hard that a lot of the job of a personal driver is simply waiting for us to need to go somewhere ( I told him to bring a book and a pillow). He speaks perfect English, is college educated and friendly. He’s eager to run my errands and help with anything he can. I found him the other day coloring on the lawn with Addie and Bella. Like Techlu and Eneye, the girls have Zahlalem wrapped around their little fingers. The best thing about our driver is that he knows his way around Addis Ababa and he’s extremely cautious while driving. So cautious that I sometimes roll my eyes at how slow he goes over the potholes with our huge all terrain Kevlar tires. Zahlalem is pretty lucky because he gets to drive our awesome new jacked up Toyota 4 Runner. It makes sitting in traffic to and from school less painful for sure.