Once again, it's that time again where I honor a worker in the Guest House with an award I started earlier this year. Every month, I decide on a worthy recipient and run it past Grant for his opinion. He generally agrees with my choice, I go out and buy a few grocery items; then I create a new poster with the "employee of the month" in the center surrounded by the other workers in and around the Guest House.
This month I decided to give Chef Paul the award. Grant employed Paul at the end of June. Apart from speaking perfect English, Paul is hardworking and reliable, never gets rattled and has an incredible sense of integrity and honesty at the top of his list of attributes. Soon after he arrived here, Paul took over the stores control from me which, in turn, took a huge load off me. When my driver and I bring the weekly groceries, meat and deli home from Shinyanga and and the larger monthly supplies from Mwanza, and the gardeners and askaris carry it into the storeroom, Paul, with Pendo's help, unpacks the boxes, cartons and cool - boxes and enters them into his own personal inventory system. If anyone needs an item from stores, be it a tin of mushrooms for cooking, a bottle of ketchup for the table or a packet of soap powder for the laundry, you go through Paul. Even I have to ask Paul for anything I need, as when I'm doing a special dish for lunch or if I need toiletries, water or cleaning agents for our own house! Paul takes this part of his job very seriously; he is able to give me a comprehensive list of items which need replacing and also informs me if any one of the expats (who are legally allowed to do this; I had to convince Paul of this!) asks for snacks, vegetables, bread or toiletries from the stores!
Paul is also an excellent chef. He can read a recipe, is able to compromise if certain ingredients are not available and works most economically with what he is given. Paul makes the best samoosas ever and is known by all for this talent. Now that Salome is on maternity leave, when Pendo has too much ironing, Paul takes over and completes the task!
Paul is a born leader and one of the three staff (the other two being Askari Edward and my own houselady, Regina - both of whom have also been Employee of the Month this year) who helps me by supervising the other staff in executing their tasks in and around the Guest House.
Paul is 6ft 6inches tall but although he is a "big" man, he has the most humble nature I have seen in a man. He is soft-spoken, respectful towards all and most considerate of his fellowmen.
Chef Paul, center, is the Employee/worker of the month
I always call a meeting after lunch when I want to make this award. And until I announce it it's a secret who the Worker of the month is. I open the meeting by asking (in Swahili) if they all know what the occasion is. By now they all know and shout the answer out! Then I explain that the person chosen for the award has shown exceptional improvement, or has proved to be a hard worker and kept good time (Incidentally, with the previous staff, time-keeping was not taken at all seriously when I arrived at the beginning of the year, but now it is a hundred percent) But, I add, all the other staff at the Guest House, the gardeners and the askaris, have also worked hard and shown they can be good team players. I tell them that they should remember there can be only one winner! And then I announce the lucky person. It always amazes me how surprised that person is when I call out his/her name and how thrilled the others are! The winner normally comes forward amid much applause and well-wishes from his teammates!
Here I congratulate Paul and show the poster with his photo in the center! (Photo by Regina)
Apart from the "honor" of the award, the winner also receives a hamper of basic foodstuffs and some luxury items. 5kg of ugali (ground maize - a staple here in Africa), tea, coffee, sugar, rice, dried beans, tinned fish, a small container of curry powder, biscuits, a large packet toffees and a toilet soap - in this case - for men.
The African is a very unselfish nation: they are thrilled when someone wins something and will act as though they're also recipients of all the lovely gifts. Above all eight workers pose, each with an item from Paul's hamper!
All in all Paul is a worthy winner of this month's award for Worker of the Month! Hongera/congratulations Paulo!