Earning while they’re learning

Many students take up various temporary services during the winter vacation

Youth: To help reduce the financial burden on their parents, several students in Wangdue have started to make use of their winter vacation by going from door to door in search of temporary jobs at automobile workshops, incense factories, construction sites and hotels in town.

Usually, students, most between 15-18 years, come in groups of three to 10, and ask for work, a construction company owner said.

After knocking on several doors, a class VIII student of Lobesa, Jeevan Pradhan, found a part time job with YT Engineering workshop.  Jeevan is the second eldest of the six siblings. Jeevan’s father works in a sawmill while his brother has found a temporary job at a construction site.

“Several offices rejected our request, as they find us under age,” he said. “I’ve been doing temporary jobs for two years now.”

At the workshop, Jeevan and his friends take turns to wash vehicles, and for each wash earn Nu 50 from the owner, and some tips from the car owner. “On an average I earn from Nu 250 to Nu 800 a day,” he said. “It’s good money.”

Lhawang Dedhen Incense owner Sonam Tobden said they have recruited about 12 students as temporary hands since the winter vacation.  More than 20 students came to him for work and while some come with friends, others are sent by their parents.

“We’ve been offering temporary jobs for more than five years,” he said. “In most cases, it’s male students from poor families.” The students were paid between Nu 6,000 to Nu 8,000.

“We try to recruit as many as we can on a first come first basis,” Sonam Tobden said. “Since they don’t have experience, we give them small works, like packing, drying of incense powder, and paper cutting and printing.”

Karma Rigzin, a class X drop out, has been working as a temporary help since with the factory for almost a year.  He lives with his father at Tencholing. “I’ve saved some of my earnings to continue my education,” he said.

Thinley, 18, a class-IX student of Bajo high school, is another temporary employee.

“My parents don’t work and, when I find temporary jobs in winter, it helps them a lot,” he said. “I earn about Nu 7,500 a month.”

Another owner of an automobile workshop said some students even come looking for work during summer break. “We allow them to do car-servicing, as it helps them,” she said. “They’re well behaved and don’t spend money unnecessarily.”

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue

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