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Help refugees who need your help

Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in February, Hochschule Flensburg has been looking for Russian-speaking volunteers to help refugees from Ukraine. That message touched me. I decided to join the group of volunteers. Naturally, from the beginning there was a fear, whether I am competent in such matters, whether I can provide help.

You can see a person holding up a yellow and blue sign that reads: Ukraine - we are here for you.
Students at the University of Flensburg greet Ukrainian refugees with posters, expressing their willingness to help.@Lilit Open fig caption

At the same time, I had a lot of integration experience and was ready to share my experience. On the very first day of volunteering, we and several volunteers had to attend the placement of refugees. A new refugee camp was opened and the newly arrived refugees from Ukraine were supposed to live there. Our university volunteers accompanied the social pedagogues and translated what they said and answered other questions of the refugees. It was a very interesting feeling that you can help people and share your experience. As part of my volunteer work, I worked as a translator at the JobCenter and the Migration Department. I was so interested and motivated to join the process that I received an offer from the municipality to work as a language and culture mediator.

Interestingly my workplace was the same camp where I volunteered on the very first day. I have known many of the residents of the camp for a long time. As a volunteer, I mainly do translation or accompany people to some meetings, but as an already employed person, my responsibilities are broader. There is a lot of contact with government institutions and documents. I understand very well the refugees for whom everything here is unusual, I used to wonder why it is not possible to go anywhere without an appointment. Later you understand how life works in Germany, and you must explain everything that you had to go through to people who have just arrived in Germany.

People greet Ukrainian refugees with posters, expressing their willingness to help.
People greet Ukrainian refugees with posters, expressing their willingness to help.@Lilit Open fig caption

I appreciate this work despite all the difficulties and will not give up so easily. One of the most important feelings is to be useful and to receive thanks․

For example, those under my care can fill out the documents for JobCenter (it is the state structure that deals with financial and social support) and wonder why the specialists of the state structure did not send them an answer that very day. It is naturally difficult to adjust that the response may take several weeks. One of the difficulties is also the registration and making an appointment with narrowly specialized doctors, for example, for a visit to a dermatologist or orthopedist and an ophthalmologist, you must wait several months, if the situation is not urgent. For example, a person cannot find an apartment in one day, sign a contract and move to that apartment in the evening.

My own observations have shown that many of these things take a long time to learn.

For me to be able to provide competent and professional help, I also undergo various training programs. They are mainly aimed at improving professional qualifications and using your time intensively. For example, one of the important tips is to focus on one thing, get it done, and never panic. it’s also important to maintain boundaries with the person in your care to avoid future work disagreements.  I appreciate this work despite all the difficulties and will not give up so easily. One of the most important feelings is to be useful and to receive thanks․ 

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