Friday, August 18, 2017

Developmental impact starts on my home-payroll

With Jack and Tomoko
As my friends and colleagues know, in addition to the exciting work I’ve been chasing at World Bank Group these past 18 years, I’ve also been chasing six kids at home. And no, I don’t deserve the Soviet Mother-Hero medal, but I have been lucky to have wonderful helpers at home who certainly do deserve it. 

I don’t consider myself a high-earner, but hiring lots of helpers has always been a necessity in my life, even when they earned more than my after-tax income. We got started having kids when I was 20, and babysitters, all older than me, had to show me the ropes. At our craziest point in Kyiv, I counted 14 helpers on payroll. Bringing them into our family, from childbirths to Thanksgivings to guitar lessons, has multiplied our joy.

Ted and Dmytro improv in Kyiv
At WB, I could be uncertain about the impact of my work, but at home I never was. At work we could spend two years on a report that might sit on a central banker’s shelf, or prepare a project that would never be approved. Meantime, Negede sent five kids to college, Atey bought herself a motorbike and sent her sister to college, Nubia bought a house and fixed her husband’s teeth, Vera paid off her daughter’s mortgage, Lena bought a car, Dmytro renovated his kitchen, and Oksana bought a house. Our family’s colossal needs were a big part of that.

Vera and Sabina
For the best-networked helpers, finding the next job is a smooth operation, facilitated by word of mouth and expat social networks. But just as I am surprised time and again by the incredible skills and very low asking-prices in developing countries, I am surprised and embarrassed that the mechanisms for finding markets continue to be so ad hoc. A musician with PhD from Kyiv Conservatory scrapes by at a local institute, and drops by the international school looking for gigs. A graduate student in theoretical mathematics earning USD5/hour is lucky to be referred by a friend of a friend at church.

Can we do better?  #MOGwee #helpingpeopleearnmore

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