The Little Electric Tea Kettle That Could – And Has Been

Who would’ve thought a little electric tea kettle could save the day, much less a whole office – for a few weeks? Turns out it sure can.

At ONergy Solar (ONergy), my placement organization in Kolkata, a buzz fills the air with managers and staff involved in a multitude of projects at any given time. The office sees numerous visitors coming and going daily for client and partner meetings, job interviews, deliveries, and sales transactions. The staff, located in Kolkata and nearby Howrah and ONergy’s renewable energy centers throughout east India, are bright, passionate, and focused but also always have time for jokes, laughs, and fun.

ONergy, a social enterprise started in 2009 providing solar energy to rural communities in east India, has grown rapidly in just in the last few months. So one can imagine how busy things can get – and the importance of the ritual twice daily pick-me-up cup of tea. It was a sad day, then, indeed, when the induction stove in the office used to brew our tea stopped working. While the induction stove was out for repair, the office had tea brought in from a popular stall nearby – and though still tasty, the experience somehow wasn’t quite the same as the “homemade” kind brewed straight in the office.

Enter my little electric tea kettle. I had bought it during my previous placement in Secunderabad and innocently carried it into the office one day to make tea for myself, not knowing at the time the induction stove had stopped working. I suppose others were also missing the homemade tea because one day, the administrative staff asked if they could use it to brew the tea while the induction stove was still out for repair. I said “yes” excitedly; I wasn’t going to pass up this chance! Since then, we’ve been having our homemade tea once again – and twice a day, of course. We are always grateful for that first sweet, warm, smooth sip that gives us just the pep we need in our step to prepare that next invoice, submit that next report, or make that next sales call.

Towards the end of one particularly long day in the office, when we started getting a waft of the tea brewing, one of my colleagues remarked my little tea kettle had saved the day – literally. I was happy to hear, that by bringing in the tea kettle, I was unknowingly contributing to my organization not just through my professional work but by helping keep my colleagues in good spirits and keep the energy up in my office throughout the workday. My little electric tea kettle sure proved that it could – and has been to this day.

The little tea kettle that could - and has been.
The little tea kettle that could – and has been.

Benita comes to the AIF Clinton Fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C., where she served in the Office of Planning, Analysis, and Accountability beginning in 2011. Among other areas at EPA, she has contributed to advancement of partnerships; development of internal Agency program guidance reflecting Congressional budgetary decisions; analysis of performance in water, Tribal affairs, and children's health and performance information in EPA's Congressional budget request; and creation of EPA's Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Report. Benita began pursuing her interest in environmental and social issues in 2009, when she traveled to Ecuador as a volunteer on environmental projects and teaching English with the Yachana Training Center in the Napo province of the country. Later that year, she also began developing her interest in serving India while volunteering at Auxilium Snehalaya, a homeless children's shelter in Guwahati, Assam, India.

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