"...my motto in life , which drives me again and again is: There are only two days a year when you can’t change anything. One is yesterday and the other is tomorrow."
Hello my name is Jolanta, I am 52 years old. I am in Germany since 2015. It is a weird story how I came here. I just opened the Atlas with a map of Germany, closed my eyes, and pointed on one spot with my finger like in a lottery. That’s how I moved to Bielefeld. The first time I came to Germany was as a 10 year old exchange student in fourth grade. I instantly fell in love with Germany. At that time when I crossed the border I felt like Cinderella in a fairy tale. It was like a dream. We received many presents, sweets and 20 German Marks with whom I only bought goods much later when I was 18/19 years old, at the market at Bahnhof Zoo, which we re-sold again in Poland. I supported my family with this. We were 5 brothers, two sisters and very poor. I saw no future in Poland for me and my kids. On the run from my abusive husband at the time, I often had to move around in Poland in the middle of nowhere because he tracked us down again and again. I lived in constant fear that he would find us. I did not get enough protection from the justice. We were married for 18 years. He was an alcoholic and very aggressive. After I have told him one day that I would leave him he stabbed me in my stomach with a knife, and left. „When he can’t have me, no one else will“. Our almost 3 year old daughter sat next to us and played with building blocks. She was too small to consciously understand the situation. But even today she sometimes has nightmares. I have to thank my, at that time 13 year old son, that I am still alive. He forgot something on his way to school and came back home. He found me and called the emergency service. They only took my husband into custody for 48 hours. After my surgery, and the time in the hospital I was accompanied home with police protection, so I could pack my belongings. Then I came in a women’s shelter with both of my children in a different city. Because I wanted to leave I was only there for 3 months. I found a job in a hospital, but it was not enough. My daughter ate at the kindergarten, and my son ate at school. I myself often ate the leftover food of patients in the hospital. It was a difficult time. I had informed myself online in advance and contacted polish people living in Bielefeld via Facebook. A work colleague drove me and my 8 year old daughter there with a car. I brought my son over later. He was training to become a computer scientist which he wanted to finish for now. I had organized that he stayed with good friends. We just drove off and had to sleep in the car the first night, because I had no place to stay yet. It was cold and it rained heavily. We were scared because many people were on their way and were able to look inside the car. In the morning I quickly got on the internet with an advice from my contacts on Facebook, to contact the “German Red Cross” and a temporary employment agency. My work colleagues in the company had supported me. They were partly polish people, who knew what it was like to get by with nothing. On the same day I had found a place to stay and a job. I am so grateful to the people who have helped me so much. I got a small one room social housing apartment for me and my daughter, and was very happy to have a roof over my head, and not have to spend the night in the cold and rain again. I had to protect my children! That was my motor. My daughter got a place at school a month later. She couldn’t speak German and therefore received separate language lessons for 3 month. She was only 8 years old, but had to grow up very quickly. Now she is 17 years old and very responsible. She accomplished so much. She is currently making her high school diploma, and has received good grades in her exams. While I myself have not experienced exclusion yet, my daughter sometimes suffers from discrimination in school. I had many educations and had many different jobs in Poland: tailor, seamstress, artist, baker and confectioner. I also worked as a nurse and a supervisor. All this was not accepted in Germany In the beginning I didn’t know a word in German except: “My name is Jolanta.” But I had a big dictionary with me and have translated much with google. I understood quickly: I can not work here if i don’t speak any German, and that is why i told myself: I have to! I have to, because I want to. So I went to a language school and i got good grades. I was so proud of myself. We were all alone in Bielefeld. That’s why we moved to Berlin in 2017, because my sisters and other family members lived here. At first I thought Berlin was to big and I wouldn’t like it. But there is a park here, and i have many hobbies that I discovered for myself, that make me happy. Above all, I like to dance. I danced when something bothered me, and then I was happy again. I used to have depression and great anxiety but I got psychological support. My children and I are healthy, and we have a good life. Three of my jobs are now excepted in Germany. Now I would like to train as an occupational therapist. That’s another 3 years of training, but my motto in life, which drives me again and again is: There are only two days a year when you can’t change anything. One is yesterday and the other is tomorrow. I have a very good neighborhood, and we always stick together. We live very mixed here. One can say Multikulti (multicultural). For me there is no difference if you are from Germany, Poland, Russia, the Ukraine, Turkey or Greece. It doesn’t matter. For me, every person is a blank sheet of paper. People describe them self’s with their actions. What I didn’t know and what surprised me is that you have to make an appointment if you want to meet your friend.