Get In The Car, You’re Going!
Thursday, October 01, 2015
by Maggie Doyne
One of our proudest parenting moments this year was helping all of our teenagers get summer jobs. Finding internships and employment opportunities for 22 teens was no easy feat. It was a team effort with big props going out to our English Fellow Anjali Belur for helping the kids make resumes and set up interviews and to our Director of Human Ecology (aka house mother,) the amazing Nena Sivess.
Our intentions were two fold.
- 50 kids off of school for an entire month = madness. Our home thrives when we're all on a schedule. We wanted to keep everyone busy and away from the television.
- Even though our older kids have chores and duties and work around the house, preparing meals, cleaning, mopping, washing dishes, and taking care of the little ones, we realized they needed more financial awareness and work outside of our home. How is money earned? Where does it come from? How do you apply for a job, and become a reliable employee? When you have money how do you save/spend it? In a community and country where unemployment is a huge problem, we want our kids to have grit, be creative, hardworking, entrepreneurial, and never ever give up.
We were all so proud when they came home from an interview beaming and would say "I got the job!!" or "They said I speak really good English!" or "They're not hiring but I'll try somewhere else."
It was surprising what kind of opportunities were out there once we put our minds to it. A few of our boys worked as bus boys at a local restaurant, while others got trained as baristas and waiters at our local coffee shop, Java Cafe. Some girls worked at a day care and others at our women's center. We put some of them to work on the construction site of our new school which was amazing to get them more involved and invested in what was going on over there. One of my proudest moments was when I saw Bhakta shadowing a stone mason building a fence and doing the work right up beside him. He looked like a natural. Naveen Tiwari worked in the restaurant at Shani Village, a local hotel. He'd get home at 10 or 11 every night when the whole house was asleep and usually I'd sit with him while he'd heat up leftovers and tell me the funniest stories. One day a concerned patron asked him if he was a child laborer and he proudly answered, "No, I'm 15 and this is my summer job! I'm trying to get some work experience."
We had quite a few "learning moments" and tender conversations, and don't get me wrong - the kids did their fair share of complaining. There were the mornings where someone couldn't find their work shirt and the stressful moments of scrambling out the gate trying to get there on time and the days that they needed a ride and there was no one there to drive them. One day Padam and I got in the biggest fight of all time because he wanted to quit his job and I told him he couldn't until he gave it at least two weeks and then we started yelling at each other and then I screamed "GET IN THE CAR, YOU'RE GOING" at the top of my lungs. It's funny looking back at it now. Padam, I love you and you rocked at your job. The kids all made a very little bit of money and it was interesting to see how some of them went and spent it all right away while others saved every rupee.
We've also gotten a lot more conscientious as a family about letting the kids do more of the grocery shopping, fruit and vegetable purchasing, and negotiating in the market for the home and our organization for more financial awareness in general.
We paired a few of our kids up with other local NGOs and partner organizations which was a special way to strengthen our relationships and partnerships. A few of the older girls interned at the Shambat Center for kids who came from at-risk backgrounds, and at the end of their month at the center, it was so powerful to see the bonds that they formed and how much the younger kids looked up to them as the biggest heroes of all time. When I went to watch them get their certificates in recognition of their work, my eyes welled up with tears. I felt so proud my heart nearly burst.
Long story short, we learned a lot. A lot a lot. We'll be doing more of this every summer. We really grew as a family.