Au pair means on equal terms. it does not mean a maid. Subjectively speaking, it is a cultural exchange programme. On the contrary,the programme creates a kind of dependency whereby the au pair is wholly dependent on the host family. Furthermore,the host family has to pay her some pocket money (4150 DKK). I have had the opportunity to interact with a couple of au pairs of Denmark. The first one I met was 30 years old. She came from Philippines. I wanted to know why she came to Denmark as an au pair? Nancy, life is hard in Philippines. I have to pay school fees for my siblings. In fact I am happy that I met my husband because my host family were the devil advocates.
When I arrived here, I felt lost. There was no cultural exchange. To add salt to an injury, my family had secured about 6000 kroner to the au pair agency that brought me here. I had to persevere Nancy. I am curious to hear the entire story… First of all, I had to share my room with their dog. Some of these Danes value their dogs more than humans!!! When it came to food, I was only allowed to eat rugbrod ( bread). They said that was what they ate in Denmark as warm food was very expensive. There was this one time, I used the red onion to make a Philippines dish and my salary was slashed to cover for them.
But why didn’t you look for another family or contact the the au pair newtwork? I did not know much then. Furthermore, I did not want to risk losing the one I had before settling my debt. There was one good thing though. They always gave me my off days. However, I barely knew anyone then which meant there was no where to go. I therefore headed up staying the weekends with the family. The off days did not count as long as I was at home. In fact there was this one time I had to stay in my room because they were having very important guests. Nevertheless, I had to do the dishes after they left.
Did they pay you in good time? Yes they did, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done with my family. The first six months I had to send all the money home. I did not even top up my travel card. On a good day, the family would take me along to their weekend adventure so as to take care of the kids. They were two lovely boys aged 4 and 8. This was my only chance to leave our residence. Eventually, I met other au pairs from the Philippines and sharing our stories encouraged me. Our goal was to get a Dane who would marry us and thereafter we would get to do well paying jobs like cleaning and kitchen assistants.
How is it now that you met a Dane? Is he different? Did you actually fall in love with him? He is a kind guy. loving. However, there is one thing I don’t like about him. He doesn’t help my family. His money is only for us. I am okay with that, because now I have a home of my own and a baby. More so, I can work in cleaning and make more than I used to as an au pair. I also settled my debt, therefore, I just have to save enough to invest and help my siblings with schooling. As for love, when loving is the only option you have, then you have to fall in it. I am happy mine was a happy ending.
How do you feel about the au pair program in general? It is a hoax. There is very little on Ny I Danmark which is actually followed in real life. I have so many au pair friends and some of their stories are horrific. There is one of them who was made to take care of the sick member of the family. She even bathed him. It was humiliating Nancy.
Is it possible to talk to her? I will ask but she is still traumatized. I also met a Kenyan one. Oh wait!! you are Kenyan. I need to hook you two up. Her story is not one of the best too. Fortunately, she found another family and she is now happier. She is really enjoying her cultural exchange. Making Danish food and even speaking fluent Danish. Things will be so easy for her when she finds a husband.
This intrigued me. I wanted to hear her happy story. It was a first. Most importantly, I wanted to meet her, my home girl. I guessed we would have some fun talking about it and that way she would open up. Speaking a bit of Swahili too, would take me closer to home. It took me about a month to meet her as she is clearly a busy bee. Moreover, she has integrated well and made great friendships here. A part of me was a bit jealous. I anticipated to meet some of her friends and even attend her church.
When I finally met her,her story was thrilling, bittersweet. I couldn’t put it on the same page with my Philippine friend.
Is it okay if I shared your stories on my blog? Yes Nancy. As long as you don’t mention our names. We cannot afford to lose our residency. However hard it is to say, Denmark has become our home. We are not yet ready to go back. Nancy, would you like to go back to your country? Yes. everyday. Kenya is where my heart is. However, Denmark has become my home too. I have found love here. I am in my 20s and I am just following the wind for now. At this time, the wind brought me to you and your story is what’s important. I look forward to writing yours my darling Kenyan friend.