Eight years ago, I moved to a new area. The first acquaintances I made there were the local children who played in the streets of this remote part of Stepanakert. We celebrated Easter together and have been friends ever since.

By now they are already in high school or university. They are the new young generation that needs to meet the numerous challenges of the new era. One of these challenges if finding a job. Today, many educated and intelligent young people cannot find a suitable job. Higher education is easily accessible, and it is not just the smart and hardworking but almost everyone who competes for the same jobs, including those who drag their feet through university. But it also had its advantages. People began to look for self-employment. We already see new children’s cafes, children’s development centers, entertainment centers, event planning services, a huge increase in hairdressing services. These initiatives open the small doors of opportunity for young people. Against this background, I would like to share the story of Alissa. She is different in that she started earning when she was 12, at the age when boys and girls in our society are only expected to do their homework and attend after-school classes.

Alissa, now fifteen, is one of the children from our neighborhood. I see her every day on the street wearing her headphones. A dark-eyed, dark-haired Armenian girl, she is outgoing, quick on the uptake, active and energetic. Three years ago, she decided to celebrate her birthday in a children’s cafe. They invited a clown, and Alissa was so active that the entertainers offered her a job. She thought it over and agreed. Because of her zeal, she always has work. Alissa says that in the summer, she makes money on a par with her parents. She loves to delight kids and conduct entertaining programs, and is on good terms with her coworkers.

When I asked about the difficulties, she told me the following story, “We were recently hired to entertain at a little boy’s birthday. I wore a superhero costume. The birthday boy was shy. He was terrified of the entertainers, and I was the only who managed to build rapport with him. As long as at least part of my face is visible, I can easily make a connection even with a frightened child. A shy child is probably the biggest challenge in our line of work.”

When I asked about her income, she said that she managed it on her own. She makes enough to cover her expenses and even sometimes helps out her family; however, they always pay her back. When I asked Alissa how she thought becoming an earner at such a young age affected her as a person, she answered right away, without musing it over. “I am sure about two things. First, I became independent, I can take care of myself, I do not need to ask my parents for money every time. Second, although my work is simple, I already know how difficult it is to make a living. I view this question differently.”

Alissa has been a student at a medical college since this year. She chose this profession with love. Ever since she was a little girl, she enjoyed playing with medical instruments and loved films in which doctors in white coats saved lives. She now combines her studies with work, with emphasis on the studies.

Of course, this is but a small example, but the way I see it, the fact that people like Alissa do their job with love and are happy will pave the way to the solution of major problems.

By Arev Apresova,  MA in Philology

The post was prepared in the framework of a project on Building Capacity for Societal Engagement in Nagorno-Karabakh implemented by the Caucasus Institute in partnership with Armavir Development Centre, Civil Society Institute and INTRA Mental Health Centre.

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