GEORGE NUUS - Oud-Kwagga, Elisa Barnardo, is onlangs in Amerika as die beste kinderoppasser (au pair) van 2020 aangewys. Hier word sy tans as kinderoppasser (au pair) die geleentheid gebied om nie net te reis nie, maar ook te kan studeer.
Sy wil graag as 'n kostuumontwerper in films werk, dit was nog altyd haar droom van skooldae af.
Sy was een van die beste ontwerpstudente in die skool en was genooi om een van die beroemde David Thale-werkswinkels op 2 Maart 2018 in Plettenbergbaai by te woon.
Elisa se besluit om as au pair in Amerika te werk, was met die fokus om daar haar droom te bewaarheid. Elsa Barnardo, Elisa se ma, vertel haar avontuur het in Oktober 2019 begin toe sy in Amerika aangekom het om te begin werk.
Die familie vir wie sy werk, het verlede jaar haar kontrak met nog ’n jaar verleng.
"Ons was baie onseker of sy Europa of Amerika toe moet gaan," vertel Elsa.
Elisa vertel om 'n kinderoppasser te wees is nie speletjies nie. "Dit vat baie toewyding, harde werk en natuurlik om om te sien na die kinders en te alle tye deel van die familie te wees."
Elsa spog, Elisa is 'n absolute meester as dit kom by kostuums ontwerp, en met Halloween-vieringe in Amerika, leef sy haar uit deur kostuums vir die kinders te maak. Sy is deur haar gesin ingeskryf vir die kompetisie, hulle het ook 'n video ingeskryf met 'n samestelling van al die goedjies wat Elisa met die kinders gedoen het.
"Natuurlik met Elisa se verbeelding en kreatiwiteit is die kinders se dae belaai met so baie aktiwiteite en genot, en die liefde wat hulle vir haar het is so duidelik, dat wanneer sy nie werk nie soek hulle haar steeds."
Ma Elsa kon nie uitgepraat raak oor Elisa se slag met kinders nie, wat reeds begin het in die Suid-Kaap Kinderkoor waar sy 'n lid was vir 10 jaar en ook hul hoofmeisie was.
As deel van Paula Thiart Carlas AuPairs, kan Elisa nou uit eie ondervinding, advies gee. Haar beste raad is dat jy tog 'n slag met kinders moet hê, en dit nie net vir die geld moet doen nie.
"Jy sal jouself binne vier maande terug op 'n vliegtuig op pad huis toe bevind, wat jy nog self moet betaal ook." Sy sê jou fokus moet die kinders en die familie wees, maar wat so 'n geleentheid wonderlik maak, is dat jy gedurende tyd af die land kan verken deur rond te reis en selfs te studeer.
Lees Elisa se opstel wat sy aan die boordeelaars geskryf het:
I feel truly honoured to have been nominated for the Au pair of the year and want you now to know all about how my au pair life has been.
I started this au pair experience with lots of questions on how to survive as a 19-year-old in a different country far away from home. How I would adapt to living with a host family and to be the best au pair I could possibly be for the three golden-haired angels. But as soon as my flight landed, and I saw the family's bright smiling faces searching for me in the crowd, all my questions were answered.
I will never forget driving home for the first time with my host family. They immediately made me feel welcome and at home. Asking about my life back home in South Africa and telling me all about theirs in America. Sharing some laughs and exchanging some top-secret parenting/au pair tips. Arriving at their home I noticed the distinctive yellow colour of the walls. This reminded me of my home that shares the same yellow colour. So how could I not already feel at home?
The Cavar family has been a blessing in my life since the moment I met them in 2019. I could not have asked for a better family. Arriving in the Halloween season I jumped into the excitement of spending my first Halloween with the family. As a creative person by heart, I decided to be the only appropriate character I could think of - Mary Poppins - which is why I am known as Mary Poppins in my family. A lot of responsibilities had become part of my everyday routine. Cooking my world-famous pancakes at 7 o'clock in the morning and making sure the troops (children) are tucked in and safe by 7 at night.
Having to adapt to a full busy household was a bit of a challenge for me. I come from a home where I was raised by my single mom and 74-year-old grandma. It has always just been my mom, grandma, younger sister and me. We had to make our own way and make do with what we had. I always dreamed of coming to America because it has so many possibilities and opportunities for young people like me. My journey to become an au pair was a long and difficult one, with many questions as to how I was going to make it happen. But after a year of trying, I matched with the Cavar family after our second skype call. I knew they were the family for me!
The Cavar children became the most precious part of my day. Charleston Grace, or as she is also known, Charlie, Char-Char, Charlie bear, cha-cha or just princess, has filled my mornings with adorable sleepy walks to the kitchen and late-night Barbie play sessions. She makes every moment an interesting one by explaining to my why ramen noodles are actually good for you and we should have them every day. She is such an intelligent little five-year-old, and she teaches me something new every day. Then there are the twins, Benjamin and Callahan, who are three. When I first arrived, the boys turned two and they were just learning to mumble some words. I can now say that the boys have learnt to speak in sentences and won't ever stop. And that makes me so so proud. Mr. Benjamin. or Benny Boo, is the charmer of the family. Not a day goes by without him bribing you to get him some pink lemonade. He is so full of energy and keeps me busy by never stopping to tell Elisa a new interesting story. And then Mr Callahan, or Cal-Cal, who is the sweetheart. He has such a kind little soul and gives the best little snuggles. Dinosaur growls must be exchanged every day or he will not accept any other form of communication. There are times when I look back at the kids and don't want them to grow up or to even leave them one day. But then I remember that I am there to change their lives and use that time to help them grow and develop into smart and kind little munchkins.
It was important for me to connect with the children in every way I could. And believe me, taking care of three kids under five has been the experience of a lifetime. But I would not exchange those moments for anything. Building sheet forts in the playroom, having high tea with the princess, dinosaur chases around the house and telling the tale of the Titanic at bath time. Putting on small ballet performances was a must - and sorry, but mom and dad must pay to be seated. Convincing a two-year-old that the spider toy is just a toy for a week straight and trying to mix those vegetables into the mac and cheese with the sneakiness of James Bond himself. These moments are small, but they will stay with you forever. Because that is what being an au pair is all about. Creating memories with the children that they won't ever forget. And not only helping them to grow, but you yourself growing into a responsible and caring person because of the experience.
The children are the reason I came halfway across the world and they are the reason I decided to stay on as their au pair for a second year. I can hear myself now. "I will only do one year of au pairing." Ohh, Elisa, if only you knew.
As a young woman of 20 I can now say that this experience has changed me for the better. My host mom and dad have taught me so many valuable life lessons that I will always carry with me. They have made me a stronger person and shown me that there is true kindness in the world. Even if you come from a strange small town on the other side of the world. Showing me that even through the toughest of times it is important to be kind and understanding. Being an au pair so far way from home in a time like 2020 has a been a true journey. I can't explain how alone it sometimes felt not being able to make new friends or go out and see the world. But somehow even despite the whole family getting Covid, my host parents stayed positive and made sure to let me know that they are here for me. Everyone wearing masks and social distancing even indoors was hard, but we made it through despite all our challenges. We are all very close and still share funny stories about the kids almost every day.
And then of course I must mention the person who has helped me through all of the craziness of this experience, Rose Becklin, who is my community counsellor. She has made this au pair experience so much fun. Always giving me tips on where the latest sales are and taking me out to go get some good food with some good company. She was always there if I needed to talk about something or just simply missed home and needed some company. I can’t thank her enough for all she has done for me and will still do. And I know she always has my back.
2020 has been the year I have developed with every diaper change, load of laundry, tiny tears and Legos under my foot. And all of the places I got to see and go were all thanks to the Cavars, who I will always now refer to as family. They have truly changed my life and being made part of their family has been the honour of my life. This au pair programme has given me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and live out in the world even though it is one though battlefield.
So thank you to Euro Au-Pair and the Cavars for giving this girl the greatest adventure of her life.
'Ons bring jou die nuutste George, Tuinroete nuus'