Ten years after Amrick Gonsalez and his wife Audrina came to Kenya, they reflect on their journey, culture shock and raising children in a foreign land
Grace Wachira @yaa_grace
Amrick Gonsalez and his wife Audrina relax outside their family home in Lavington, Nairobi. The lush green grass is inviting. They watch as their daughter, Arlinna, play on the garden slide as they caution her to be more careful. Their son prefers playing indoors.
It’s 10 years since the couple settled in Kenya, with their firstborn child, Amos Gonsalez who was only one year old then. “It was different for us. Kenya’s way of life is different from what we were accustomed to in India. Most of the families in India are extended ones.
The very basis of the joint family system is the idea of living together under one roof. The family including the grandparents, parents, siblings, along with the extended family that includes uncles, aunts, and cousins, stay together in harmony. A typical Indian joint family can span three to four generations under one roof. Here we were on our own,” Audrina says.
It was a mixture of culture shock and pleasure. “It was a bit tough, but with time, we have come to love living here,” Audrina smiles.
The couple appreciates their house helps who have assisted them in doing chores and taking care of the children. “One advantage of an extended family is that you have ready babysitters. But we appreciate the help we get from our domestic managers here.
The ones we have interacted with are honest workers and are very efficient. The one I have currently is good at her job and disciplined,” she says.
Their second addition in their young family was a baby girl, Arlinna, who was born five years after they settled in Kenya. “She is an active child and is at that age when she is experimental,” Audrina adds.
Arlinna’s aggressive nature is what landed her a top prize during the Little Einstein Science Fair for children in 2017. “We let her participate in various activities because we believe in letting our children discover their talents and become their own without us influencing them,” Audrina beams.
Amos also has his wins in the extra-curricular activities. “He loves sports and has brought home medals after excelling in football. During their free time, they love to play and water the kitchen garden. Amos and his sister always have a blast when planting and nurturing their tomatoes, onions and mint plants,” the proud mother adds.
The children have since learnt Kiswahili. “Apart from English, which they widely use, they also use Kiswahili to communicate and steadily, they are getting the hang of it. They love the language. Here at home, we use Marathi, their mother tongue so that they do not fall out of touch with their culture. Even if they do not quite speak it, they understand,” she adds.
Amos reports to school at 7am, while his sister reports at 8am. At school, the couple appreciates the fact that their children are well mannered and social.
“I believe they have picked a lot of values from school and at home. When they use polite language, I feel good as a mother. The essence of good parenting is to see that you are doing the right thing when bringing your children up,” Audrina explains.
They get to spend time as a family every evening when everyone is back in the house. “We bond over dinner and while the children do homework. We find out how their day was and over the weekends, they get to enjoy fast foods,” reveals Amrick.
The Gonsalez household has no qualms about being strict with their children if the situation demands. “If they do not toe the line, they get a beating or scolding, but this is rare because they know they have to obey their elders,” Amrick asserts.