Gladys – future caterer or secretary; (from Betty)
A few new people have become part of our life. One is a really pleasant and helpful young woman, Gladys, whom we have hired to work for us in the apartment. We met her at the guesthouse where we were staying. She said that she had been to catering school and was trying to start a catering business after she earned enough money. So we decided to hire her and after we leave we hope to help her achieve some of her goals.
I feel a little bad about how she came to work for us but, not too bad, because she has really been a “godsend”. I was worried about finding someone I would like, and trust, and also someone who could help me with the cooking. The other new people have been the staff at our apartment complex.
The new apartment
The 8 unit apartment building is surrounded by a high cement block fence, topped with barbed wire. You enter the compound, which also has a very nice garden, through a huge metal gate. Over to one side is a shed where all the individual generators sit. We thought we were very lucky to not have our apt on that side until we had to deal with our neighbors’ huge generator on the other side. At night there are, at least, two security guards who are also in charge of turning on the generators.
At first everything was going well but then one night when we asked one of the security guys to turn on the generator, the tank that was supposed to be full was instead empty and since the extra fuel containers were locked up we couldn’t turn it on. We had planned to charge up our computers and phones for the next day in case we didn’t have power. Now we could not do neither and we had to deal with someone taking the fuel. And since there are several people working here you don’t know who took it. Petty theft is a big problem here. Mostly likely the people who work here are not well paid by our landlord. Also we did not have a system in place to keep everyone honest.
Now we have started a system of signing for all fuel used and hopefully this won’t happen again. It is a little uncomfortable knowing that someone has not been honest with us but we have decided to build a relationship of trust and respect with them, the latter is really important in the culture here, rather than trying to punish them for a theft of less than $10. We will also try to reward them when they do their work well or are helpful.
Shopping on foot
There are always people who need jobs here and most of the menial jobs are long hours for very low pay. We usually try to be generous with the people who help us in some way and we try to support small local businesses around where we live. So we always giving out small amounts of money. I tell Bob that we are running our own NGO (non-governmental organization) here. We have 3 small kiosks nearby where we can get bread, toilet paper, fruit, soft drinks, etc. which is very convenient. They make really good bread here and now a young man who is trying earn money for school fees stops by every day with fresh bread. These are all the little things here that we would never have in Hattiesburg, where if you don’t have bread you have to get into your car and drive to the nearest store.