When did the first child care workers appear in Seychelles?
It is undoubtedly an interesting question that has not been studied deeply in our history, which we would like to explore and understand its evolution with the help of our community
The first recorded use of ‘Nanny’, noted in the Oxford English Dictionary, was in 1785. However, the profession itself stretches much farther back in time.
Several names were given to describe what is now a “nanny”, such as “nursemaid”; “wet-nurse” (for caregivers who also breastfed the children); “dry-nurse” (for caregivers who did not breastfeed); and simply, a “nurse.” All these terms date all the way back to the early 1300s.
The word “nanny” itself is of questionable origin. Some scholars have connected it to the Greek root nanna, which means aunt; the Welsh word nain, which means grandmother; and the Russian nyánya, which means nursemaid. Others connect it (and all its possible linguistic root words) simply to baby talk, and the fact that “na” is one of the first sounds infants learn how to make.
This specialization within the nanny industry serves to help families better describe the kind of person they’re looking for as well as help prospective nannies define their skillsets. (Interactive, 2016)
The first documentation of the nanny being separate from ‘nursemaids’ was in the 1700s’. The role reported to the ‘lady of the house.’ Nannies would assist the maids of the house in the general housekeeping but were also educated and would act as tutors until the children were school-aged. This is a time when women were not allowed to work, so there was no formal pay. However, compensation came in the form of food and a place to stay, making the work appealing to many unmarried young women who wanted to live independently. (Team, 2019)
The history of nannies in Seychelles has not been documented, but among our community we all know someone who has been a ‘nanny’ in the past, and this could help us built a memoire and understand when did the nanny profession started in our islands. In the past, families, mostly grandparents, used to look after the children when the parents needed to go to work. But with the increasing birth rate at a very young age, grandparents are still in the workforce and no longer able to look after their grandchildren. This had led to an increasing informal child care workers demand, as no ‘nanny agency’ was available to the parents. The childcare industry in Seychelles is mainly and officially day care centers.
It is exciting to note that the nanny began with the British Empire, and that Seychelles was a British colony between 1814 and 1976. However, it was stated that the Swiss Priest, Father Angelin Zufferey, who founded the Ste Claire School (1909-1999), L’Union Chretienne Seychelloise, has had a huge impact on the Seychellois population, acted as a benevolent recruiting agent for girls who sought employment as nannies in Lebanon. (NATION, 2010) However, it is very difficult to count domestic workers in Lebanon not coming through official labour schemes or those who stay past their visa and work permission expiration and consequently without legal documents. (Jaoudeh, 2017)
Can we consider it as the beginning of the nanny history in Seychelles? Are these girls our first Seychellois child care workers?
THE NANNY PROFESSION
Traditionally, nannies worked as servants in large, typically aristocratic households and usually reported directly to the lady of the house. Nanny responsibilities at the time included all aspects of childcare, from bathing and dressing to nursing and entertaining.
Typically, a nanny also served the lady of the house and provided assistance to any other ladies’ maids with housekeeping and cleaning. If the nanny were educated, she would also teach the child until he or she was old enough to be sent to school for a formal education.
In the twenty-first century, nannying has become a respected career; today’s top nannies command rather impressive salaries. This is due in part to greater recognition of the importance of childcare, as well as increased awareness of domestic workers’ rights.
There are now professional associations for nannies, such as the International Nanny Association (of which the Nanny Authority is a member), acting as an umbrella organization for the in-home child care industry, as well as various schools and programs that provide training to prospective nannies. The formation of nanny agencies has also afforded a secondary protection to nannies. (Interactive, 2016)
Over the past few centuries, nanny responsibilities have evolved, and with that evolution, the position of “nanny” has been segmented into several different, more specialized subsets.
Today, there are in the world live-in nannies, live-out nannies, weekend nannies, mother’s helpers, teen chaperones, nannies, governesses, holiday nannies, nanny housekeepers, and babynurses, among others.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE NANNY IN SEYCHELLES?
It’s almost impossible to imagine if the role of the nanny did not exist in our world! The function is inextricably linked to humanity. Nannying is a time-honored profession that deserves to be placed on a pedestal.
Seychelles has recently introduced its first agency providing in-home nannies to families in 2019, applying international child care standards, to allow the residents to have many options for their children.
With new technologies, and a growing acceptance of families in which both parents work, the child care sector is always adapting to meet its clients’ changing needs—it’s part of what makes working with childcare professionals and families so rewarding.
Joining ‘The Nanny Agency’ as a nanny will allow you to grow as a professional and specialized in-home childcare provider, such as ‘Special Needs Nanny, Multiples Nanny, Travel Nanny, Montessori/RIE/Waldorf Nanny, High Profile/High Net Worth Nanny, VIP and Governess’.
There will always be a new generation of parents who work and children who need nannies, and we will continue to be a constant source of industry advice and help to both families and caregivers.
Contact us today to learn more about our services!
HELP US BUILD A MEMOIR ON OUR PAST SEYCHELLOIS NANNIES!
If you are a daughter or a son / grandchild of a mother, grandmother or great grandmother who has left Seychelles in the past, to work as a in-home caregiver abroad, please contact us and share your or your family member’s testimony.
This will enable us to build a memoire and discover the story and evolution of our nannies in Seychelles.
Interactive, N. A. (2016, February 2). Blog, History of the Nanny. Retrieved from Nanny Authority: https://nannyauthority.com/history-of-the-nanny/
Jaoudeh, V. S. (2017, November 14). Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon.
NATION, S. (2010, November 13). The way we were 101 years ago. Retrieved from History of Seychelles: http://www.pfsr.org/history-of-seychelles/the-way-we-were101-years-ago/
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