Not too long ago, we had two employees, a couple with a child, a bit older than Apra, who were working at the Ashram and living here as well. After several months that they worked here and a lot of consideration from our side, we had to say good-bye to them some days ago. Although we had been happy that they had come and joined us and although we really wished that they could stay and keep on working here, we decided in the end, it would be better for them and us if they left. Let me tell you why.
When they came here, about eight months ago, their son was just two years old but how it is normal here in India, both parents had the habit of hitting their child practically on daily basis. When we realized this, we had a serious talk with them, right in the beginning of their stay, telling them about the rules at our place: at our Ashram and in our school, no child gets hit or beaten! We have a strong policy of non-violence and we want our employees to follow it.
Of course they promised not to hit their child again and after we had heard them threaten with violence several times, we also told them not to use such language – for the sake of their own child and ours! It changed, or at least we thought so. We did not hear such words anymore and we put a lot of effort into teaching them how to treat their son differently, with more love and without violence.
Unfortunately however, they obviously just made an effort not to do it while we were around. Once, Pawan, one of the boys living with us, called me because the mother was hitting her son. Another time, I saw the father in the garden, hitting the boy. Both times we confronted them, both times they apologized and promised to change and we gave them another chance. We thought we could give this child and his parents a great possibility to change their life. We gave love to their child, the children all played together, they all enjoyed the beautiful family atmosphere of the Ashram.
We did not however want Apra or the other boy of the same age who lives at the Ashram to be affected by their violence in any way. So when one day Apra came running out of the children’s room, telling Purnendu that her playmate’s father had hit the mother, we were getting to a limit. We got to know that he hit his wife often and even once in front of our gate, on the street, out in the public! She told this under tears – and we understood that he had the habit of hitting her and they both were used to hitting the child. And this time, in front of our baby girl.
We were concerned very much. We had spent eight months of giving them chances to change, we thought we had managed to help them out of their violent habits and behavior, with each other and their child. But it was in the atmosphere and while we thought we could change the life of one child to the better, it had started affecting several other children. What should we do? Taking them out of their job would better the situation at the Ashram but would it take away this chance of a lifetime from them?
In the end, they practically took the decision out of our hands by starting a fight with another adult employee. The boy’s father had an argument, which had happened before already, but now it escalated and they got into a fight with hands and legs. This crossed our tolerance limit and there was no other way than to terminate their employment.
We took the decision and already a short time later, we can realize that it was a very good decision. The atmosphere at the Ashram is now calmer and more peaceful. Nevertheless, we send our best wishes to this small family and especially to this child, whom we wanted to provide the chance for something better. It didn’t work out but we all took our lessons from this for the future.