Svitlana Kryzhaniwska still touches her mobile phone. She opens and closes it, without really looking at the screen, as if to make sure that she is still close to those left behind, in Ukraine. “The day when my city, Ivano-Frankivsk [dans l’ouest du pays], was bombed, on February 24, 2022, my life changed. I had a terrible fear. I never imagined this could happen. She speaks of her sons, aged 27 and 32, of their families, who remained in kyiv. “They said to me: ‘You, you speak German, you should go to Germany.’ So I took the bus. There were mostly women and children, and lots of cats, dogs. I joined Warsaw, and then Germany. »
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Like many refugees who arrived in Germany following the conflict, Svitlana first settled with friends who agreed to take her in, near Hanover, in Lower Saxony. For the past few months, she has had her own apartment and a job. She works for Temps, a medium-sized family business specializing in painting buildings, in Neustadt am Rübenberge, 30 kilometers from Hanover. She teaches basic German to 23 refugees so that they can, if they wish, then start a work-study apprenticeship in the company. Thirteen other young people learn German at Time in another course.
“When, at Time, they asked me if I wanted to do it, I told them that I didn’t have the soul of a teacher, she exclaims, laughing. I have an engineering background. In Ivano-Frankivsk, I managed a representative office of a Belgian animal feed company. But I don’t like to sit idly by, and nobody else spoke German among the Ukrainians here, so I said yes. »
Svitlana Kryzhanivska (in the center in red), employee of the company “Time”, gives a German lesson here to five Ukrainian refugees in the company, on February 9, 2023, in Neustadt am Rübenberge (Germany). PATRICK SLESIONA FOR “THE WORLD”
His course does not only have a pedagogical purpose. It also allows refugees to meet and discuss, and thus facilitate their integration, an explicit wish of the company. “We organized the traditional festival of October 14 [la Journée des défenseurs de l’Ukraine] here, in the premises of Time! With our dishes, our songs, and even a play. It was great to make yourself at home, says Svitlana. Stay here long term? I don’t know. Our bodies are here, but our minds are still there…”
Immediate residence permit
Some 1.1 million Ukrainians arrived in Germany in 2022 – 140,000 left – more than the number of Syrians, Iraqis or Afghans received between 2014 and 2016. However, this time, no images of the overwhelmed administration, no reports on emergency accommodation centers organized in gymnasiums, no large demonstrations hostile to the arrivals or disputes within the conservative parties on a “limit” of people that it would be possible to welcome to Germany. The first months of reception went smoothly, even if some municipalities and regions recently alerted the government to the fact that they were reaching their limits, while the flow of arrivals, also from other countries, not weaken.
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