I woke up with a start. I had overslept, which hadn’t been my intention. I had wanted to wake up early and do some chores. I was still trying to “buy” my way into my new family and I didn’t want to give the impression that I was the lazy type.
Too late! From the bright light filling the room and clinking of cups and spoons, I could tell the entire household was already awake. Staggering into the sitting room, I apologized for waking up late.
Everyone was having breakfast; porridge, mandazi and the food left over from the previous night’s dinner. I ate, this time careful not to consume a lot of food.
Jane was taking the day off and in a way, I was glad because she was the only one I could easily communicate with. There wasn’t much to do around the house considering that the maid had already mopped the house and cleaned the dishes.
I engaged Jane in small talk but she was more interested in finding out more about me, where I had studied, my family and things like that. I opened up and later prodded about employment opportunities.
“It’s not easy here. There are few jobs so you need to first settle down and may be later, you might get lucky,” she said. When you’re hoping for something, you don’t want to hear negative talk and so I found my host’s frankness repulsive.
I figured she should be encouraging me, not dampening my hopes. I told myself I hadn’t come this far only to be told to sit back and wait for opportunity to come knocking at my door.
I would do all in my power to go out there and look for a job. I made a list of places I thought might have openings. The challenge was how to get there since I didn’t have that much money.
Then it occurred to me that I could actually walk. All I had to do was acquaint myself with the roads and names of places and I would be fine. I decided that I would start job hunting the next day.
Today, I would make all the necessary arrangements, put my academic papers in order and rise even earlier the following day on mission “Find Sophie A Job”.
Shortly before we had lunch, we got a visitor, a man called Spencer. He lived right there in the same compound and Jane said he had some connections I might find useful.
So Spencer and I attempted to communicate, with Jane chipping in every now and then, translating for the both of us. Not long after that, Spencer told me about some canny ways people without regular jobs use to survive.
“You run errands for people here and there; do part time stints and attend the odd press conference where you can get per diem, free lunch and more contacts,” he said.
I was starting to like this man, especially because of his openness. He had known me for two minutes but wasn’t hesitating to help me.
“Tomorrow, we’ll attend a conference and then later, I can take you around and may be we can meet some people.” I was over the moon.
By 6.30a.m. the next day, I was ready to go and two hours later, we were at the said press conference. I didn’t understand most of the proceedings but Spencer did his best to translate in what little English he could muster.
There was no lunch but there was per diem. Rwf 5,000! It felt like I’d just won the lottery. After the conference, Spencer suggested that we have lunch before proceeding to potential job avenues.
Why not? I thought to myself. We headed to one of the restaurants and I indulged in a buffet. I wanted to pass the drink but Spencer insisted I take a soda.
Leaving the restaurant a while later, I felt blessed that my day had turned out a lot better than I had expected.
To be continued…