Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Zhenya starts a new business

One evening my friend Zhenya stopped by on her way back from getting a cavity filled. I made her a cup of tea and she sat at my kitchen table while I finished preparing dinner.

Just a few weeks ago she left her job selling jeans at Dordoi and opened her own store. She said she sells groceries and cosmetics. She’s working long days, from 8 until 8, and so far isn’t earning much more than she did as a salesperson. But it’s now hers and should develop with time.

She hired an 18-year-old girl from a neighboring village to be a salesperson for her.

“She was just sitting at home, had finished school and couldn’t find a job. And do you know why she wasn’t working?” Zhenya asked. “Because she’d lost her passport. The passport department isn’t giving out new passports and nobody would hire her without a passport. So I gave her work without a passport.”

She said that the girl’s 20-year-old sister is in the same situation and she may hire her as well.

I was glad to see that she’s building a business for herself and I hope to go visit it at some point. In the meantime, she’s lost, at least temporarily, her source of support in America.

Her mother, who was working as a home aide to an elderly man in New York, was fired upon her return by the man’s daughter. The reason for the firing was her two week absence, though she’d asked permission before she’d left and it was her first time home in seven or eight years.

“She’ll find something else easy enough,” Zhenya said. “Because she doesn’t charge much, just $500 a week, and she has a lot of experience. She’s buried so many women already. But my mother felt sorry for the old man, who really liked her and was crying when she was let go.”

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