Elisabeth Mane worked in our household for more than three years, until we left Dakar in April, 2020. Expecting to return, we continued paying her salary, but now we have learned that we will not be returning to Dakar, and would love to help her secure another position.
This is one of those rare occasions where our recommendation is not only full-throated, but without any reservation whatsoever. I will try to hit some of the highlights, below, but our satisfaction with her services was total and she only improved over time as she accustomed herself to our preferences and peccadillos.
Management: Because both of us worked, we required Elisabeth to manage quite a bit—food budget, shopping/deliveries, service providers from outside, etc.—with minimal supervision. She kept meticulous accounts and proactively alerted us to maintenance needs, neighborhood events, price changes, etc. Although she had worked in several other households prior to ours, my sense is that she had not previously been required to exercise as much autonomous judgment, but it took very little time for her to ‘lean in’ to the greater autonomy. On matters that we did have specific instructions (e.g. when we were hosting a dinner for guests with specific dietary requirements) she was meticulous in following them, and would ask questions to confirm that she understood our expectations.
Communication: Although Elisabeth does not speak much English, her French is excellent and she is a very good listener. When she first started working for us, our teenagers had limited French, but she was patient and encouraging with them, cajoling them to practice with her and gently suggesting corrections to improve their communication.
Cooking skills: Elisabeth was a good cook when she started working for us and, with little more than some recipe sharing and encouragement to experiment, she became an exceptional cook. Her core repertoire is Senegalese and French/Continental, but she readily added Asian dishes and techniques. Each of us had our own favorite “Elisabeth dishes” but even the non-favorites were delicious and nutritious.
Safety and Security: In late February, when we first became aware of Covid-19 (as something that might come to Senegal), but before we decided to ask her to stay home, we decided that we should sit down with her to have a conversation about prevention measures. We were concerned that some of our requirements might seem excessive to her, but within 30 seconds of starting to discuss them with her, we realized that she was far ahead of us—she was already carrying hand sanitizer in her purse, had stopped taking mass transit (without having asked us for the extra transport money that we intended to offer her), was requiring all work- and delivery-men to wash hands before entering, etc.
Realizing that everyone has their own needs and styles, it is nonetheless hard to imagine anyone being less than thrilled with Elisabeth’s services.
Elisabeth can be reached at 77-449-8780
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