Home Expats in Prague OPU Introduces Their New Ukrainian Team Members

OPU Introduces Their New Ukrainian Team Members

Photo: OPU’s blog

Text taken from OPU’s blog.

When Ukrainian refugees started coming to the CR, it was clear to us that our help would be needed more than ever. At first, we had to find out what to do to be able to help effectively. That’s why we invited Ukrainian speakers to join our team – these are our interpreters who also live our clients’ stories.

Our experts and interpreters’ knowledge and skills are important, but there are situations in which our staff’s personal experience can be the most helpful. Just like our clients, they have moved from their home country and needed to integrate in the CR. We’d like to share with you the stories of how they got all the way to OPU. We’ve prepared a series in which we will introduce you to our colleagues. The first one will be Olena H. who used to dream about living in Prague which has now been her and her family’s home for 3 years.

“It was my dream to move to Czechia. I was looking for better future for my three children. Of course, there were a lot of obstacles on the journey and during the adaptation. My husband got a work permit in the Czech Republic and based on his visa, me and our children could apply for a stay here, too. Things got complicated when it turned out that my husband’s company had debts to social and tax authorities which was a big obstacle for the Ministry of the Interior. We were not allowed to extend our documents. My husband listened to a lawyer’s advice and changed employers to avoid losing his permit. It was quite a challenge because finding a good job in a short time is far from easy. But in the end, he succeeded in changing employers and extending his documents, and later me and our kids were able to extend ours, too.

“Due to the difficulties with extending documents, I couldn’t work for the first two years, so I dived into studying Czech. Once I got free access to the labour market, I thought about what I wanted to do – how to find a job and what direction to take? I have a degree in economics, but I’ve always longed for helping and supporting other people. When I learnt that OPU needed bilingual social workers, I immediately felt that in this stage of life, this would be the right choice for me.

“Right from the beginning, the Czech Republic has felt like home. In some ways, it has even felt much better than my home country. As a mother, I appreciate the education system very much. Children are admitted to schools according to general rules, not based on bribes paid to the headmaster. Schools have everything they need to be able to provide education for children. In Ukraine, it was parents who paid for new video projectors, curtains or even plastic windows. I also want to highlight the quality and punctuality of public transport, which was a major problem in Ukraine, especially in small towns. I am happy that I can have a better life for my whole family.”

Olena has been working with us for half a year now and she has been a real support for our team – we appreciate her optimism, perfect Czech as well as her emphatic approach to clients. It is also interesting to see a different perspective on the Czech Republic. While some of us tend to be very critical to their homeland, others see it as a dream destination.