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

By now these same children are already in high school or university. They are part of a young generation currently facing numerous challenges. One of these challenges is finding a job. Today, many educated and intelligent young people cannot find suitable work. Despite having easy access to higher education, those who complete university studies are competing for the same jobs as almost everyone else. This current difficulty in finding work has encouraged some young people to seek self-employment opportunities. We already see new children’s cafes, children’s development centers, entertainment centers, event planning services, and a huge increase in hairdressing services. These initiatives have opened doors of opportunity for young people. Against this background, I would like to share the story of Alissa. She started earning money when she was 12 years old, which is normally an 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, energetic and quick on the uptake. 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 accepted it. Because of her zeal, she always has work. Alissa says that in summer, she makes money on par with her parents. She loves to delight kids and conduct entertaining programs, and she gets along well with her coworkers.

When I asked her about any difficulties she has encountered, 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 one 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.”  

After asking Alissa about how she handles her income, she said that she manages 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 her how she thought earning money at such a young age affected her as a person, she answered right away, “I am sure about two things. First, once I became independent, I was able to take care of myself and did not have to ask my parents for money. Second, although my work is simple, I already know how difficult it is to make a living. I view this question differently.”

Alissa started attending a medical college this year, and she chose this profession out of love. Ever since she was a little girl, she has enjoyed playing with medical instruments and loved films in which doctors in white coats saved lives. She now combines her studies with her work, but maintains an emphasis on her studies.

The way I see it, people like Alissa who pursue their jobs out of love and happiness will lead the way towards 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 with support from the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.

The opinions and statements that were made in this post may not coincide with the official position of the UK Government.

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