While PROaupair selects just one Au Pair of the Year, this doesn’t mean that there is only one outstanding professional au pair in each batch of candidates. Far from it! This most recent year had a number of outstanding au pair candidates nominated by their host families.

One such au pair is Mateja Starman, a 26-year-old pediatric nurse from Austria. Mateja came to the U.S. to live with the Ahmed family of Bethesda, Maryland. The Ahmed family has two children, three-year-old Armaan and one-year-old Ayla. Ayla was born with a cleft lip and palate and had the first of three surgeries a week after Mateja arrived in the U.S.

After every surgery, we struggled to keep our little girl as comfortable and healthy as possible. Neither was easy. It was a challenge to keep her safe and hydrated enough to not return to the hospital. We were often red-eyed from tears and stress. Mateja was an invaluable part of our family support team and made sure Ayla stayed on track in her recovery, exercising patience and skills from her work feeding premature babies.

When the family first learned of Ayla’s medical condition, while she was still in the womb, they were devastated.

We feared for our baby and how we would care for her through the surgeries she would need to endure in her first year. Through a friend we found PROaupair and after interviewing just one candidate, we knew we had found someone who would be at home with us and who would provide exceptional care to our children. As Mateja said herself at the interview. “I think we will be a good team.” And indeed we have been.

Since coming to live with the Ahmed family, Mateja has excelled, developing a close relationship with Armaan and coming up with creative ideas to help Ayla through her surgeries and the challenges that have come with them. She has bonded with the family, becoming a younger sister to the parents and an aunt to the children.

In addition to being an exemplary caregiver, Mateja has made our home a happier place and has shared her culture and been open to learning about ours. Over the past eleven months, there has not been a single day when she has not been cheerful and smiling, and that positive attitude has noticeably brightened our home.

Read the full nomination letter from the Ahmed host family on the PROaupair website: https://proaupair.com/about-us/proaupair-of-the-year