To Au Pair or not

Sharlien Tjambari 

Young people in Namibia, especially females, are interested in au pair work. Although au pair work is a fairly common work practice around the globe, it is still necessary to do your research well before embarking on such work adventure.
Au pairs have different stories to tell – for some that turned out a wonderful experience abroad, but others had nasty experiences. Ruth, a young lady from Karibib shared a story to Namib Times of her journey as an au pair.
Ruth met with her agents some time in 2002, immediately after she completed her high school. The first family she worked for was German. She had German as a subject at school and she fit in well. “I had very good experience as an au pair. I would recommend it to anyone”, she explained.
Adding, it is important to apply through an agent. Agents are proficient in the application processes, registration and placement. As an au pair it is also important for you to know your rights and your duties. There are registered agents who stand for the rights of au pairs. Make sure you talk to the right people”, further explained Ruth.
In her time as au pair, Ruth travelled around Europe where she worked at various host families. She admits there were some of the families who wanted to take advantage of her, but knowing her rights and her duties she could manage the situation.
With savings from her earnings as au pair, she managed to study, got a full-time job in a bank and now permanently lives in the United States of America.
What is an au pair: An au pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living as part of, a host family abroad. Typically, au pairs take on a share of the family’s responsibility for child care as well as some housework. They receive a monetary allowance for personal use.
Au pair arrangements are subject to government-specific restrictions. In some countries like the United States families utilising an au pair need to ensure they are studying.
Namib Times spoke to Inamarie Louw of Carla’s Au Pairs Agency. She recommends au pairing to anyone. “Any young woman who meet the requirements can definitely consider signing up for the au pair program. It’s a life changing experience and can benefit you as a person in many ways”.
According to Louw, Carla’s Au Pairs helps young ladies with the whole process from applying to finding a family and seeing them off at the airport. “Our company specifically support our candidates throughout the year as well by checking in with them as to how they are doing. Candidates are welcome to contact us for advice”, said Louw.
It is important to note that the Au pair program is in fact a cultural exchange program and not necessary an employment opportunity.
Louw further said so far, Carla’s Au Pair Agency is the only registered agency in Namibia. “Companies like Cultural Care/Au Pair Care have selected agents in the country but they have not yet opened any branches in Namibia for their business”.

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