I had mentioned a few times on facebook problems we had been having with our workers. Well, I have been wanting to tell you the whole story...and here it is.
When we moved into our house in April we had one guard who is a relative of the owner. He had been watching the "empty" house and we kept him because he knew the house and the area well. Then we hired 2 other guards to cover all the shifts. We wanted to have a guard 24 hours a day. We felt safer that way. We ended up getting one more guard so that 3 guys worked 8 hours a day and the other guard took all of their off days. We were paying them all above minimum wage, which we thought was really good. We were totally covered, and that worked for us for a long time, 8 months. We also hired a house worker to help with house cleaning and some cooking. With all the dirt, dust, and wind the tile floors have to be swept and mopped everyday! In the beginning I was doing 20-25 hours of formal language study with Rob and a language helper each week, so I needed the help around the house.
Aside from paying them well we also gave each worker one meal a day, which is not common practice here. We came to understand why after realizing that we were feeding 4 extra adults each day. What were we thinking? I was having to make an extra meal for them on days when I knew they wouldn't like what we were having. Crazy!? We thought we were doing a very nice thing. It had nothing to do with how much we paid them. It was a bonus. We also paid for their water consumption, and for them to have what they needed to make tea in the small kitchen outside.
Around October, our house worker and one guard spoke to us, through the guy who recommended them to us, about us increasing their salary. We said, "No", and thought that was the end of that discussion. However, I did notice tension building in my house with my house worker, which made us uncomfortable. I need my home to be peaceful, especially since I am trying to get used to a new culture and everything outside my gate is foreign...except for the Sky and Coca Cola! After a while things got back to normal. Whew!
Then again in November our house worker pleaded with us for more money. We told her that we could convert all the "extra" things we did for her into money. We added up the amount and told her what we were able to increase her pay to. If she accepted we would no longer provide meals, water, gas to cook meals, etc. She thought about it over the weekend. The next Monday she came to work like normal and right before it was lunch time she said that she wanted to keep thinks the way that they were. Whew, again!
Then in December, the guard who had asked for more money before discussed with Rob, with the help of Pastor George, that all of our workers had decided together that they should get more money, time off, double pay for working on national holidays (which we should have been doing, but didn't know), and a few other things. Rob did an excellent job of talking to him. He told the guard to write everything down that was in question, and write down a suggestion as to how they wanted us to change things. A few weeks went by like normal. We didn't hear anything. Then one day Rob asked him if he had prepared their case like Rob requested. To which he replied, "No." So they talked again and we expected to hear something from "them" soon. We didn't hear anything, and during this time we had been discussing our situation, and getting advice from other missionaries. Rob and I decided to change some things about our situation. We decided to go from 4 guards to 1, big change. We also decided to let our house worker go for several reasons, not because there was a big problem.
The weekend of New Years we let everyone know that we appreciated the work they had done for us, but would no longer be employing them. (And by "we" I mean Rob let them know with my full support!) I was on an emotional roller coaster that weekend. It all went really well, better than we could have hoped for. Since none of the guards were in a position to be the 1 guard we needed, we hired a guy from our church, who had worked for missionaries for many years, was faithful and trustworthy, and was in need of work. He showed up the next Monday to start work. We hired a new house worker 2 weeks later and all was peaceful...Until...
The next week the guard that was stirring everyone up and causing trouble brought Rob a summons to appear in Labor court two days later. We were in shock, although I kind of expected something to happen.
The guy came back the next day, after talking to his friend that recommended him to us, and worked things out with Rob without having to go to court. He said he would withdraw the complaint, and left about $40 richer. We were shocked that he was going through all this trouble, and ruining the relationship he had built with us for such a small amount of money.
In the end...we paid the money to get out of the situation. But I think we were on the winning side because of all the things we learned about having workers, knowing the laws of the land, and being as prepared as we can.
We totally give God all the glory for helping us stay clam in tense and tough situations, for wisdom to say 'yes' and 'no' when appropriate, and for His strength to maintain our Christian witness trough it all!
Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement for us as we journey through life in this foreign land. We received our first teammates this past week. They will be attending a language school until May and then move to the city we are in to continue the process of getting NTM established as an organization in Tanzania! WooHoo!
I have included some photos from the last few weeks. Enjoy!
Love and Blessings to you all!
|Daddy and the girls made a robot from cereal boxes. He name is Lily.|
|Donovan watching Daddy and the girls build a fire.|
|This is the fire they built for us to make our first smores in Tanzania. |
They were so good!
|This is our new guard enjoying a smore!|
|Emily got the universe painted on her face at a birthday party.|
|Shelbyanne became a swan.|
|Here is Emily singing while holding her Pineapple lollipop. And yes, that is just the top of a pineapple that she was licking like a lollipop.|