From Ukrainians in Bulgaria, frankly
Stoyka Terzieva is a hotelier who has been hiring employees from Ukraine for years like dozens of her colleagues. This year, however, they come not just as “temporary staff”, but as people seeking refuge from the war. What is the change in them? Which of them are doing better? Which ones want to find an easier way to survive? What attitude should we expect from them? Here is a candid story, especially important for people seeking first-hand information.
I enjoy speaking on the topic of Ukraine because as an employer I have a lot of contact with Ukrainians.
I have observations about them and how they have changed – what they were like in previous years when they came to work for us, and how they have changed now because of the war. In previous years they were mainly students.
Now people have become much more organized and more looking for stability.
Even those same students who came to work with us this year, I see them now changed, more responsible, looking for development, and seeking stability. In the early days, which was the most stressful time for them, and when we were mainly communicating on the phone, they were very scared and looking for a way to get somewhere more secure, to get out of their country. Then, when the programs started in Bulgaria, maybe in other European countries, they became a bit more relaxed and realized that they could find somewhere else to stay.
I can share as an employer especially who stayed and who worked best with us and with the best quality and interest.
These are the ones who came from families where there are disabled people. For example, we have a family in which the woman is disabled and the man could leave Ukraine because he takes care of her, even though he is not of retirement age. He continues to work for us to this day; we left him on a year-round contract, with a desire for him to stay the following year. He works very hard, and responsibly, he learned to communicate with Bulgarians and colleagues very quickly, and his job requires him to communicate with people who are outside the company. He learned because he needs to take care of the people who are with him. Similarly, there was a girl who was looking after her grandmother, the grandmother was placed in another hotel under the program and the girl was working for us.
The other group, as in any society, are those who want to see if there is an easier way of staying, of finding a place in society.
They are immediately evident, they are also among us, among Bulgarians who are looking for temporary employment. There is another group – women with children. They can’t work, especially in the shifts that we offer in temporary employment in the hotel industry. They have children and they cannot start working, but some of them have professions – for example, manicurists, and hairdressers – and they can practice these jobs, but not be employed full-time. They started successfully working in beauty salons, and spa centers too. So those are the three groups of people, I think. The first two managed to establish a career with us, and the third one, the statistics show, did not stay in Bulgaria, they moved on to Europe.
If we were in their position, they would treat us as we treat them.
We should always know that they do not leave the place where they live of their own will; they are forced to look for another place and another way of living. They are simply forced!
Even if we tell ourselves that they are from areas where there are currently no war activities, imagine that we are in their shoes and we do not know how many kilometers away the war is. Just think about the impact that has on their mental health. We need to be aware that these are people who are not going out of their desire. Why do they escape? Well, they escape because they want to protect themselves, their family, and their future. If we were in their position, they would treat us as we treat them now. But, like all people in society, they are different!
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