43 Jahre, Eisenach
I almost moved to Hanover because I could have worked there without knowing the language. But thanks to the support at Ziola, I can stay here in Eisenach.
Interview with Haithm Rassoul
A difficult start for Haithm Rassoul
The Eisenach Job Center placed Haithm Rassoul in the LAT project "IFA - Vocational Integration of Special Target Groups Wartburg Region" at the project sponsor Ziola GmbH in Eisenach in January 2020. After failing a language course exam, he was offered a job by the Eisenach Job Center. Haithm Rassoul stated that he did not trust himself to work without sufficient German language skills and was thus referred to Ziola's integration project.
In the project, he learned above all how to use German grammar correctly. "I had the feeling that things were finally progressing. The teacher explained everything so well and the other participants were also very nice," Rassoul said.
For Haithm Rassoul, the contact with new people who help him or who share his problems was the most wonderful experience from his time at Ziola.
But after just four months, he had to do without some of that support. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, face-to-face classes were no longer possible at Ziola either. Consultations took place by phone or digitally. He found it difficult to do the assignments alone at home, even though his children were eager to help him. "If I don't know the solution, I can't write someone else's answer, can I? You don't do that," Rassoul recounts.
With the language came the job
After his course, Ziola placed Haithm Rassoul in an internship at FA Trockenbau Eisenach, where the boss, Mr. Ammerschuber, subsequently offered him a permanent position.
In the meantime, Rassoul speaks almost exclusively German with his colleagues, and he reports that they welcomed him well from the start and are very friendly. He also finds working with the boss very special. "There are no tasks that the boss doesn't do just because he is the boss. I have only experienced that in Germany. Everyone is a team and does what needs to be done at the time. That's a great experience."
And Rassoul certainly has the international comparison of working methods. Haithm Rassoul was 37 years old when he came to Germany in 2015. Born in Amonda, he was initially a painter and designer in employment before starting his own business. His work experience as a painter and drywaller spans 23 years in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey before he made the nine-day flight from Turkey to Germany. With him was only his then 10-year-old son. "It was very hard for me to replace his mother and I was glad that I could bring my wife and other children after 2 years."
Arrived in Eisenach to stay
Both children now go to school in Eisenach, and they were also the reason the family moved to Eisenach in the first place. When they still lived in Meiningen, the children regularly visited their aunt in Eisenach. "Then they really wanted to go to Eisenach, too, because they like the city so much. So we moved to Eisenach two years ago and that was the best decision," Rassoul laughs. Even otherwise, the children are now the top priority for Haithm Rassoul and his wife. "We wish that they do well in school here, that they can study and build a nice life for themselves. That is so my main wish for the future. My wife and I are living for our children now."
For other refugees, Haithm Rassoul wishes they could also find their way to such support projects, learn the language and work. "Especially in the beginning, it was good that there was even the possibility of someone translating for me. That made it easier." In the previous language course, there was no possibility of translation, Rassoul recounts, which is also why he found learning German so difficult. The importance of sustainable language courses can also be seen in the example of Haithm Rassoul in another challenge: his driver's license. Several times, he failed the driver's license test because no one explained to him what mistakes he had made. When he went back to a driving school in Wutha-Farnroda, he was lucky. He found teachers who explained signs, regulations and his mistakes to him in an understandable way. With this support, Haithm Rassoul passed his driving test, even though it was very expensive.
With his self-confidence boosted, Haithm Rassoul is confident that integration will continue to go well. "I almost moved to Hanover because I could have worked there without knowing the language. But thanks to the project at Ziola, I can stay here in Eisenach. I feel comfortable in Thuringia now."
Conversation with Project IFA
In the IFA project, Haithm Rassoul showed persistence.
"When Haithm Rassoul came to Ziola for the first time, he was very friendly and accommodating, but also a bit reserved," recalls Eva Günther (Project Manager in Project IFA at Ziola).On the basis of the first talks in the IFA project, the participants work out what their big goal is and which subgoals have to be mastered along the way. For Haithm Rassoul, the driver's license was the top priority at the moment, but his big goal was to arrive on the job market.
The first stage on his journey was to improve his language skills. "We design the language lessons according to the prerequisites and job expectations of the participants* so that they can also cope with common and technical terms on the job," reports Ms. Günther. "I was pleasantly surprised that Mr. Rassoul already had a very good command of the technical terms for the painting profession, despite his rather basic language skills. In general, too, he always did the tasks assigned to him comprehensively and promptly during the pandemic," she continues.
More than language instruction and job placement
Then, when Haithm Rassoul wanted to move away from Eisenach, IFA invited him again to talk about his goals and the small milestones. - What would it take for him to achieve his goals in Eisenach, and what challenges would he face if he actually moved?
"He then went home and promised me he would think about our conversation," Eva Günther recounts. "Then when he came back a few days later, he just said, 'Okay, I'm staying.' He showed real tenacity with that. That was my most beautiful experience with him, when he decided to engage in the sometimes lengthy process of integration. I wish him very much that he keeps this long-term thinking."
Haithm Rassoul still had a few projects to master on his way to really feeling at home in Eisenach. The search for a larger apartment for his family, the driver's license and further the language.
"That is also what is special about our work," adds Eva Günther. "We provide counseling systemically, which means we don't look at the participant in isolation on his path to training or work, but always in the context of his entire environment. But even there, of course, there are limits. We do not repair anything that is not broken. The participant decides what is important to him and what he would like help with. This always has to happen at eye level."
"We would like to see even more employers who give our participants a chance."
For the next stage on the way to the job market, Elisabeth Kneuper, a staff member in the IFA project, took over the accompaniment of Haithm Rassoul, with the aim of placing him in an internship."I quite soon found a suitable job offer at Trockenbau & Malermeisterbetrieb Kay Ammerschuber in Eisenach, but a driver's license was specified as a prerequisite," Elisabeth Kneuper recounts. At IFA, a preliminary interview with potential employers* is customary, so the question of a driver's license was also at the forefront. "I got to know Kay Ammerschuber as a very friendly and easy-going boss. Even without a driver's license, he was open to Mr. Rassoul coming and working first."
Overwhelmingly, internships at IFA lead to employment. "On the one hand, this is due to the very intensive preliminary discussions with the employers*," explains Stefan Niebergall, project manager at IFA. "On the other hand, we like to preferentially ask companies where there is a hiring need. The two- to maximum three-week internship is more about getting to know each other and trying out everyday work with the team."
But even with intensive support, it happens that two weeks after the employment the participant is terminated. "Sometimes the expectations and the reality of everyday work are still far apart. We would like employers to perceive us even more as a point of contact here when there are challenges during the initial contact," Stefan Niebergall continues.
Kay Ammerschuber and Haithm Rassoul did not have this problem. After two weeks, an email from Mr. Ammerschuber reached the project that Trockenbau & Malermeisterbetrieb Kay Ammerschuber had now hired Haithm Rassoul on a permanent basis.
"When we met Mr. Rassoul here again for this interview, he just seemed happy," says Elisabeth Kneuper. "I wish him that he can continue to work in his profession."
Stefan Niebergall also hopes that Haithm Rassoul will continue to enjoy his work for a very long time. "Enjoying what you do - that is THE basic requirement for staying in work."