Recently, I had the good fortune to interview Mondher Chaieb, who started working as a welder at Don-Bur in July 2022. His story of turmoil, determination and hope was remarkable and he has allowed me to share it.
Mondher is Ukranian and lived a comfortable life near Kyiv, just 5 kms from Bucha, where he worked for a metalworking company which produced steel tubing. He has a degree in Mechanical Construction; specialising in aviation. He has no children of his own but supports his disabled wife, who has a back disorder.
On the 24th February 2022, his world changed when Russia invaded Ukraine. The aggressors advanced into Bucha on 27th February and the intense artillery bombardment had left many areas without water, gas or electricity. Mondher told me of the times he had to go to a generous neighbour who owned a goat so that they could get milk.
Their extended family had already decided to tough it out but as conditions deteriorated and food and simple supplies became painfully scarce, Mondher and his wife took the tormented decision on 9th March to leave their home, birthland and most of their possessions with the view to seeking a better and safer life. They travelled west via Prague and Germany and finally arrived in the UK with valid visas on 1st May; 53 days after they left Ukraine.
Mondher’s wife did not speak any English which made the decision to move all the more frightening but, undeterred, Mondher went as soon as he could to a Job Centre where he learned of an opportunity to start his career anew at the NSEG ACE Academy; gaining a level 2 engineering qualification. He was also awarded the coveted “Aiming Higher Award” in recognition of his efforts and skill.
The ACE support and qualification were enough for Mondher to apply for the role he really wanted and he started as a welder at Don-Bur on the 27th July where he continues to develop his skills on an important and highly valued career path.
His wife has now started a course to learn English and is keen to start work.
With a huge sense of relief and satisfaction, Mondher tells me of his gratitude to all those who helped him and his wife during their perilous journey. There is no doubt that he kept back many of the bitter experiences in Ukraine and his travels across Europe and I didn’t feel it was appropriate to push. We’ve all seen some of the events unfold and heard of the atrocities in Bucher. I didn’t need to ask.
Lastly, as he grasped and shook my hand, he wanted to thank everyone at Don-Bur for providing him with new-found confidence and the opportunity to forge a new life. I hadn’t personally offered him the position but I felt moved by his tale of displacement and new-found hope.
We can only imagine what he must have endured. Don-Bur is continuing to develop and support Mondher and we all wish him and his family every fortune for the future.
Published: Thu 12 Jan 2023
Updated: Tue 09 Jan 2024
Author: Richard Owens
Published by: Don-Bur