How should we deal with the people from Ukraine who end up with us as war refugees? Should they continue to receive immediate citizenship benefits like they do now, or should they initially be treated like asylum seekers? Here the father of a Ukrainian family who has been living in a large northern German city for a year and a half has his say.

“First of all, I would like to thank Germany and all Germans for providing me and my family with protection from the terrible war that Russia started with its imperialist views.

I am 40 years old. A year and a half ago I was forced to leave Ukraine with my family. It was a difficult decision because we had to leave everything behind and were among the millions of Ukrainians who went abroad in search of a safe place for their children.

Most people living in Ukraine have low incomes, which are barely enough to pay fixed costs and buy food. For example, my salary in Ukraine was 200 euros.

I had to spend almost half of my income on rent. The rest was necessary for subsistence. That’s why people are constantly looking for a better job or an opportunity to earn additional money. Since we lived in the immediate vicinity of the border with Russia, we felt the “Russian world” from the first days in the form of soldiers, tanks, planes and missiles. Every day we, the people, the houses, the streets of shelled from Russian territory. At some point the villages and towns and people simply disappear from the earth.

My daughter has type 1 diabetes and is insulin dependent. When insulin supply problems began in our city, there was no time for reflection. We immediately decided to go abroad. I am a teacher by profession and have a university degree. When I graduated, there were no vacancies in my field, so I had to look for another job. So I went from being a teacher, to being a construction worker, to being an employee in a manufacturing plant abroad, to being a driver, and so on.

When it comes to men in Ukraine, there are some differences. There is a certain category of men that the state does not send to the front. These are men who have health problems or whose family members are not healthy. Not all men can go to war immediately, because the state must first provide them with military training and support them materially and financially.

From the first days of our stay in Germany, we often had to visit various government institutions, such as the social welfare office, the job center, the family office, the foreign authority, the citizens’ office and it was all about our insurance. We still have close contact with the job center advisor. At the beginning, communication was difficult due to the language barrier. We had to look for translators. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the volunteers who were always willing to help us free of charge.

My wife and I immediately started attending German integration courses. Of course, it is impossible to fully master the language in six months. But over time we started to understand Germans better and are now trying to communicate in German ourselves.

I would really like to find a job that brings me good income and satisfaction. Above all, I would like to earn my own money and not be dependent on government benefits. When we arrived in Germany, my wife and I were ready to take any job immediately. But when we found out about the language courses, we decided to learn the language in order to integrate faster and find a better job.

But it turned out that even then it wasn’t that easy to find a job. I have made many attempts to apply for jobs. But I was rejected everywhere. The reason: I was always told that I needed the appropriate permit, training or certificate. For example, one of my wishes was to work as a driver for a municipal transport company. And to get the appropriate training in this company. I wrote three applications, each of which was rejected. In my opinion, the reason for the rejection is the lack of an appropriate language level.

After completing the integration course, a counselor from the job center invited us to his office for a discussion. He gave us professional advice about working in Germany. He said that I would receive job offers in the mail in the future. In fact, I received many job offers in the mail. But the offers weren’t particularly different. It was a poorly paid job, exclusively in warehouses, which would not have given me the opportunity to support my family financially on my own. And since I had acquired a certain level of language and professional knowledge over the course of my life, I started looking for more promising job offers on my own.

As practice shows, in Germany you need appropriate training or certain qualifications to find a job. I had neither, so my job search was a long one. In my opinion, for professions that do not require high qualifications, the requirements for employment should be simplified. Many people have a lot of professional experience but do not have the appropriate training.

But that doesn’t mean the person can’t handle the task. You can take certain tests in which a person can demonstrate his knowledge.

We receive citizen’s benefit from the German state in the amount of 1500 euros for a family of four people (two adults and two children). The rent of the apartment is also financed by the state. Every six months we fill out forms for the employment agency in which we declare all the assets and income we have in Ukraine and Germany. In this way, the German state can objectively assess our financial situation.

I currently have no income, but this month I started working, as did my wife. If our combined income is no less than the average monthly subsistence minimum, then we no longer receive anything from the state and we are completely independent. It could work.

We are very grateful that we have received help from the German state so far. It is enough for us to eat well, dress well and sometimes fulfill the wishes of our children. But not for more. We only support people at home with kind words and communication. We don’t support them with money.”

Oliver Stock recorded the conversation

The article ““Would like to earn my own money”: Ukrainian talks about citizen’s money trap” comes from Business Punk.