Hanson Devil: Overqualified but always smiling

Written by Lisa Freiburg, 2014 Kericho Fellow 



Hanson Devil : Photograph by Lisa Freiburg (c)

Every morning when we get ready for our day and we make our way to breakfast, we are greeted by a smiling handsome young man called Anderson, age 26. Amusingly, until this interview had taken place some of us had been calling him Hanson (and some of us had coined him ‘Handsome’), in part due to confusion around the soft way that he pronounces his name. But really, his killer smile.

So Handsome (or Hanson) has stuck. Anderson who?

Handsome has the not-so-fun job of cleaning up our mess. And always does it dashed with a ‘break-your-heart’ smile.

With a diploma in business from the Kenya Institute of Management but unable to find a job in accounting (as he had initially hoped), Anderson went to the infamous Tea Hotel in Kericho and asked if there was any work for him. He was one of the lucky few young people in Kenya to have been offered a job – and despite his credentials, snapped it up, and has become the head of housekeeping at Tea Hotel.

Having worked at the hotel for six months now, Handsome – sorry Anderson – explains what skills he has gained from working here. At first, he carefully lists all the different responsibilities he has as he ticks them mentally off of each finger, verbally lingering on each of the last words – doing laundry, operating the machines, making beds, distributing towels and soap. Digging a little deeper, Handsome explains that through interacting with a continued flow of safari tourists and tea-lovers who pass through Kericho every day, he has been able to improve his language skills.

He has also had to deal with some “very VIP people”, he explains, obviously referring to us fellows! At least, this is what we tell ourselves… Interacting with high profile guests, Anderson believes, will be a useful experience for when he’ll be an important businessman himself.

With the limited salary he gets from working at the hotel, he has also learned how to budget and organize his money well – a skill that comes in handy in the managing of his general shop. Yes, you will not find many young people in Kericho who don’t run some kind of business on the side for extra cash!

Anderson loves working accounts, and hopes that soon he will be able to work the till at the hotel.

Handsome (we much prefer this moniker!) does not beat around the bush when asked what he enjoys most about his job, and admits he does not like cleaning very much (but hey, who would?). An incredibly friendly, kind and attentive housekeeper who always laughs and jokes with the fellows, he is surprisingly into feng sui (although we suspect he doesn’t know this yet) as it’s the moving of furniture around that makes him smile the most. And we smile along with him, even though we can’t imagine it being much fun moving Tea Hotel’s incredibly large beds.

Many young people might think that they are wasting their time when in a job that is unrelated to what they have been trained to do.  Here in Kenya, it seems to be the norm.

The true skill lies in the ability to reflect on those ‘unrelated’ jobs and see how they can help you to get where you want to be. Anderson is going step by step – he is not in a rush. He knows what he wants to achieve and he is confident he will get there.

August programme, perhaps?