Teen Social Enterprise Internship: Creating Hope
My name is Mucyo Peninah. I am 17 years old and I have been in the United States for four years. I first found out about Treetops through my caseworker. At that time, I was going through severe depression and I did not want to get out of the house or do anything outside my comfort zone. This caused a lot of problems with both me and my relationship with my family. I resisted any help that was given to me. When my caseworker took me to Treetops for an interview, I was not happy about it. At that time, all I wanted was a different opportunity that didn’t involve talking about myself. I had gone through a lot of therapy, so I was so tired of talking to people about my problems and having to repeat them a thousand times. I was so done.
When it came to Treetops, the only part of the organization that interested me was to be involved with the women’s group to create products. I was too young to join, so I said no to the other possibilities. Then one day, Treetops came to my house to invite me to be a part of the Sister Circle teen program. I was so confused because I had never agreed to it. But, that day when they were at my house, I knew I could not say no.
I fell in love with the group. I actually did not mind that I had to talk about myself because it felt different. I felt comfortable.
I was part of the program for 9 months. After I graduated from the Sister Circle program, I heard about the Social Enterprise teen program opportunity and even though I did not know much about it, I took it. I did not want to lose all that I had worked on with Treetops to improve my anxiety and depression. All I knew about the Social Enterprise program was that I would be in the community, learning more about Treetops and that it would be another opportunity for me to grow as a teenager. I didn’t even ask about all the details of what I would be doing. I was just ready for the next step. The program gave me the experience to sell products for Treetops at events, talk to customers and design my own product.
During this experience, I learned to be patient. This was huge for me because I am usually not. At the market and vendor events, we went to, we had to stand and wait for customers to come by. Some customers asked lots of questions and some only one. We had to repeat the same words almost a hundred times. That was hard for me. The first event I went to I had a lot of anxiety and barely spoke. Then, it got easier for me to be there and I felt more comfortable to wait and be patient. I also learned: how business and sales work, the importance to listen to customer’s needs and help them with what they want, how to communicate my ideas better, how to use the Shopify app, and how to be creative and stay organized.
I grew during this program and learned about myself, too. I discovered that I am open-minded, confident when I want to be, I have a willingness to learn and try new things, and can persevere.
As part of the Social Enterprise program, I was also able to design a product for Treetops. I chose to design a guided empowerment journal. This came to mind because I always wanted to write some kind of book and this was an opportunity to make my dream come true. I felt a connection with this idea out of all the other ones I came up with.
This journal represents me and my values. It represents the hardships I have gone through and the patience and love I learned to give myself. Through this journal, I want you to find self-love and respect for yourself. I have always wanted to help and support people as they process through whatever they are going through. This journal is meant to be a personal therapy book so you can brainstorm and find empowerment. It will guide you to build a daily habit to process your emotions and actions. I want you to be mindful, learn about yourself and find your voice.
It was important for me that this journal also be fun, inspiring and colorful so that people are excited about it. I designed this journal with women and especially teenagers in mind, but it is available for anyone. The journal will be out in a few weeks, so stay tuned for the release date.
I appreciate everything Treetops has done to my life, and I am truly proud to say that they are part of my recovery from depression and anxiety. I love Treetops Collective.
Here is my message to you:
Your goals and dreams are not impossible. They are meant to come true. Just believe in them and trust in yourself that you are good enough to achieve great things in life.Peninah