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On the run from war: from Zhytomyr to Bingen

Date: 23/06/2022

Author: Michael Rotermund, Head of Communications Germany


Alina Zabela
Alina Zabela (sitting to the left) with her colleagues in Bingen, Germany. met a Ukrainian colleague, who now works in Germany.

Alina Zabela is 31, mother of a two-year-old daughter and comes from Zhytomir, a large city in the north of Ukraine around 100 kilometres from Kyiv. She currently lives in Bingen am Rhein in Germany where she works in the JYSK store.

In Ukraine, she was Store Manager in Zhytomyr, where she worked for nine years. Now she is in Bingen with her child, mother and aunt. Her husband is still in Ukraine, where he works and is a volunteer in the military. met Alina, Store Manager Jan Oliver Schluschaß, Deputy Store Manager Marc Müller and District Manager Sonja Alina Möll for an interview.

When did it become apparent that you would have to leave Ukraine?

Alina: "It was my birthday on 23 February and everything still seemed OK. We also had an Attractive Store visit that day, which we had prepared for and which we did well. I was looking forward to going back to work the next day, but my husband woke me up at 5am and said we had to leave. After all, Zhytomyr is not far from Kyiv and the first impacts and skirmishes were approaching. The war had begun.”

Where did you go then?

Alina: “First of all, to my husband's parents. Everything was still quiet in their village, but after a week the place was also shelled. We then went to the Polish border. An aunt who lives here in Bingen picked me and my child up there. My mother and my other aunt came later. My aunt has two houses here in Bingen and I now live in one of the apartments with Zlata, my daughter.”

Alina ZabelaJYSK Germany organised

In Germany, the JYSK organisation received a list of Ukrainian colleagues who had fled to Germany and helped them to jobs in different stores. In Bingen, Alina works as Sales Assistant and sells “preferably everything – except for mattresses, where the advice does not work that well for language reasons”.

How does it work in general with advice in a foreign language?

Alina: “The mobile phone is my best friend. I have an app where you can speak in German or Ukrainian and the app will translate and display the text. It doesn't always work 100%, but then my colleagues help me."

District Manager Sonja: "Alina is a real whirlwind and it is great fun to see how she moves around the area, how she talks to customers - by mobile phone and voice app, with German phrases or with hands and feet - the customers love her."

How do you see the future?

Alina: “I want to go back to Ukraine. I have had my whole life there. I want it back. However, hostilities are still taking place near my home and martial law has been extended to the end of August. I will probably be here for some time."

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