When, after the first days of the war in Ukraine, it became evident that people would be displaced in numbers not seen since World War II, Thorsten, like many Germans, wanted to find a way to help.
“We suddenly saw hundreds of thousands of people pouring into Poland and Germany,” Thorsten said on a recent call from IDSA’s and DHM’s head office in Dortmund. “And we felt we couldn’t just sit still.”
The immediate impulse, of course, was to provide shelter for the many people who had been violently uprooted from their lives. But Thorsten thought one step beyond the basic needs, that are provided for by a multitude of aid organizations.
“These people coming to Poland, Germany and other European countries, often women with children, need jobs quickly to provide for themselves and their families.”
So, without going through a lengthy approval process, Thorsten decided to act. Within minutes he posted two open positions at IDSA’s and DHM’s head office in Dortmund on two of the many new job seeking platforms catering to Ukrainian refugees, that have sprung up in the past weeks.
Low bureaucratic hurdles
Within two days, Thorsten received dozens of responses, many of them from women, who were still on the run from the atrocious conditions in their homeland. Anna, a young woman from Kyiv, for example, skyped with Thorsten from just behind the Polish border. Olga, also from Kyiv, posted her resume while sheltering with a church organization near Bratislava in Slovakia. The management team around Thorsten coordinated at short notice and agreed to invite three jobseekers.
Within three more days, these determined young women arrived for their job interviews in Dortmund. And later that same week both Anna, who has a background in finance, and Olga, who is an IT project manager, signed their contracts with IDSA. A few days later another young woman from Kyiv, Kateryna, who had been on vacation in Mexico with her fiancé when the war broke out and could not return home, signed on with IDSA. In only two weeks, they have received residence and working permit and will deposit their first paychecks into their newly opened bank accounts in Dortmund.
“I think our example shows, how quickly and easily companies in Europe can help,” says Thorsten. The bureaucratic hurdles, he emphasizes, are much lower than many companies think. With the EU executive order that grants Ukrainian nationals’ automatic residency and permission to work in any EU country, the obstacles are very low. And the many new job platforms such as We help Ukrainians to find jobs fast /Ми допомагаємо українцям знайти роботу швидко / Мы помогаем ук (jobs4ukraine.eu) and UAtalents, often launched by individuals or non-profit groups, are a fantastic and efficient way of reaching Ukrainians, who need to set up a new life very quickly.
With this experience, the IDSA and DHM management team would like to encourage partners and companies throughout Europe to follow suit: “It’s easy, it’s fast, and you can make a huge difference.” And in addition, these determined young people, mostly women, are a strong asset to any forward-thinking, international enterprise.
Great fit for the team
Thorsten, for his part was deeply impressed with the initiative and toughness of the women, when he first encountered them in person while personally welcoming them. “It was incredibly moving to see them at the train station with nothing but a small backpack and a purse,” Thorsten recalls. The Ukrainian government had encouraged people fleeing the country to travel lightly, in case they would have to run while encountering assaults by the Russian invaders.
Anna, for example, could only withdraw a small portion of her belongings before leaving Kyiv. She had to leave the apartment behind, that she had just bought with her partner, and does not know if it will survive the ever-intensifying battle over the capital of Ukraine. In the meantime, her fiancé has volunteered to defend his country.
After a short period of acclimatization, these courageous women will surely become valuable additions to the organization. “Due to the support of further initiatives and projects, our organization is growing, and we have needs in the areas of administration as well as project management, emphasizes CTO Sebastian Steinbuss, who is incidentally also privately involved and has taken in a family of three in his private home. The new employees are a great fit for the international character of the team. And with their resourcefulness, they have demonstrated amply how driven and goal-oriented they can be.
Moreover, their presence is already a boost of morale for the entire team. “It makes me really proud to work for IDSA and DHM,” said one employee in the communications department. Her colleagues surely agree.