As my previous post showed, I've been thinking of Ghana a lot. Apart from missing the good stuff, I can't help but think of the practical bits as well. These include possibly looking for a new home in the next few months, finding new househelp and how to settle a baby in Ghana in one of the hottest seasons.
Our previous househelp left without a word to us. After the first two days of absence we thought she may have matters regarding her recently deceased father to deal with and hadn't had time to come to work. After the next few days we began to worry as this sudden absence was very unusual for her. It was only after speaking to one of her acquaintances that we were told she had decided to leave because of medical problems.
Her way of leaving is very typical of staff in Ghana. I am not only speaking of househelp (although the best stories you'll hear are of the many dramatic tales told by home staff on their last day). In the law firm that I previously worked in, the accountant told our boss early Friday that "today will be my last day". A lawyer intern didn't show up on a Friday and the next Monday we were informed she'd headed to London and wouldn't be coming back. Actually, when I think of it, I was one of the only persons during my time there who gave the requested notice before leaving (yes, I've already patted myself on the back for good behaviour).
Why is it so difficult to give notice in Ghana? Could it be the backlash of a family-like setting in our work places? After all we go to the weddings of fellow staff members but are also expected to go to the funerals and memorial services of their relatives. Is it possible that once you've hosted your boss at a family funeral, it is too hard to look him/her in the eye and say "I've found a better paying job."?
Either way something must change as it is so impractical for the employer, so embarassing for the employee who'll have great difficulty facing the employer and other staff members again, but in our case it is also a bit tragic because had she just come to us, we'd have helped her with her medical treatment and we could've stuck to our agreement for her to leave work 1st August to go back to school at our expense.
Now, for the fear of a little embarassment, she'll have to seek treatment without any salary and I can only wonder what will happen to her education and future.