Materials for a Garden Boy

It must sound laughable from far away, but being in charge of the
domestic staff, aka servants, is a bit overwhelming. I feel like I have
just been thrust into a middle management role. Negotiating pay,
benefits, schedules, procuring required supplies and a lot of other
activities make it feel as if you are running a business. From my
worker's perspective that is what it is. Talk about blurring the
distinction between work and home. Our housekeeper, her husband, two
kids and her sister all moved into our place yesterday. Their little
home is separate from ours, but it is still close enough that you never
forget that there is always somebody else there with you. And also, if
you have to fire someone, then there is no social security safety net
for them to fall into.

And it gets weirder. Lazarro, our gardener speaks no English. He came
highly recommended from a guy from the Red Cross who was moving to
Zimbabwe. So I invited Lazarro to come and work, and I gave him what
amounted to a 10% raise compared to what he had been earning before.
This was all done through a security guard acting as translator.
Lazarro was so happy to hear about his new wage. But this 10% raise
means about $4 more per month for Lazarro (he gets $35/month). The day
Lazarro arrived I asked him what he needed to do his job, and together
with George our guard, he made the list you see in the picture. As I
write this, Lazaroo is mowing our lawn, with a push lawnmower - we have
a big lawn and he has been at it all day. Since it is my first day
here, and also to thank George for killing the snake, I took them each
a cold coke during lunch. But if I think about it, that Coke, which
costs about 50 cents, is roughly the equivalent of half a day's wages
for Lazarro. That would be like your boss bringing you a bottle of Dom
Perrignon to drink up during your coffee break.
I hate to pay somebody barely more than a dollar a day to work so hard.
But that is a generous wage for gardeners in Malawi, so that is what we
are doing.

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