I have known Tina for decades, since we were together in high school. She stood out from the crowd because she was one of the privileged few who came from families that would be considered ‘the who’s who’ in Kenya. She was dropped and picked from school in different luxury cars, she would turn up on opening day with shopping that few could not even dream of. Some considered her proud and gave her nicknames.
I am not sure whether Tina was proud or they were just envious. She performed fairly well in the national exams though she was not in the top bracket. Those days there were neither private universities nor parallel degree programs. Her family could afford to take her abroad for further studies so she was able to pursue a degree even though she did not make the cut off marks for Kenyan universities, which were still few at the time.
Tina did well in her career, probably because of a combination of factor; having a degree from abroad (which was not very common at the time), the circles she was exposed to (being from the upper class) and many other factors that could have worked in her favour. She landed a senior job with an international organization within 3 years of entering the job market.
Things were somehow not adding up. She had a good job and was from a privileged family but she was always in trouble about some debt or other. She had no family of her own yet so it simply did not make sense at all. Was she living beyond her means? How? Her lifestyle was not extravagant by any standards. Why was she besieged by debts?
The jigsaw puzzle started falling into place slowly by slowly. Her dad’s companies were sinking under a mountain of debt; ranging from bank loans to money they owed supplier, staff members and other institutions. He mother had never been in any kind of formal employment. She never needed to since the family had always been wealthy. The family had lost just about all their properties, repossessed by banks because of defaulting on loans and auctioned because of debts.
Tina was actually renting a house for her parents, paying for their upkeep and also educating her younger siblings. She was sinking in debt and no one understood why. They family still put on a show, acting as if all was well. The worst was yet to come. Tina was arrested and charged with fraud. She was not able to raise the cash bail of KShs. 1 million so she was remanded in custody. She lost her job.
The court case dragged on and on and by the time it was being concluded, she had been in remand for over a year. She was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Tina had been the sole bread winner for her parents, who were already over 60 and battling health complications. Her father suffered a stroke while she was in remand and died. Her mother moved to her sister’s place (Tina’s aunt).
Team Work Benefits The Family
I have often asked myself many questions when I see families not working together as a team. Probably the man of the house is running what looks like successful businesses and the family members are comfortable. Sometimes the immediate family knows nothing about the running of the businesses. Is the business profitable? How is the cash flow? What are the liabilities? There are times when family members discover that the family business is in trouble when either they get auctioned or they are faced with court cases. Sometimes they discover that the amount of money the businesses owe is beyond what they can afford to pay.
This hits even harder if family members have not been working together as a team. Some of the problems could be avoided if family members were involved in the business and therefore know what was going on. A member of the family could question things and cause some action to be taken, before things spiral out of control. And if there has been no dialogue between the parents and their children over the years, it is normally difficult to brainstorm solutions together.
The normal thing is that the children start providing for their parents without as much as asking questions, even though there is much the parents could be assisted to do even at that point in time, to become productive. It is very sad to see parents mourning the death of their son or daughter, crying that their bread winner has died and they no longer have a source of livelihood. Some of those situations could have been avoided if families worked together rather than trusting the judgment of one person (normally the father). Every family member has skills and expertise as well as natural talent that could benefit the entire family if harnessed. Foster team work in the family and secure your future.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, Life Coach, Mentor, Motivational Speaker, Freelancer and Blogger
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