Turning Tables
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Chapter 3: Ups and Downs

My favourite moment

During my time at Turning Tables, I have experienced so many great moments that I am still telling my family and friends about it.
But my personal highlight was when we got handed over our certificates at the last day of the Step-IN program, and I got to experience a great surprise.

Me, at the certificate ceremony during our fare-well party at the last day of the Step-IN program

When my name got called, Turning Tables’ founder Amy Philippen not only handed me my certificate, but also a golden award. It was shaped like a chef and had my name engraved! Out of all participants, I had collected the most stars, which we received for showing up to the course and doing our homework. That’s how I became “star participant of Step-IN 2018”.

The award is now standing by my window, right next to my bed. Every morning when I get up, it’s the first thing I see, and it always makes me smile.

This is how my award looks like

My challenges

Next to all the many great moments of Step-IN, there were some worrying and hard moments too. Getting my work permit was one of them. It was the biggest challenge that I had to face during this whole time.

 At that point in time, when I applied for the permit, I already had the contract with Feinkost Käfer in my pocket. It was settled. I wanted to get trained by them and they wanted me. Both sides were looking forward to starting this apprenticeship. But for that to happen, the work permit had to be issued to me first.
Fortunately, Turning Tables had informed me beforehand, which papers and documents I was going to need, so I could start gathering them early on. However, the authority responsible for my asylum application was known for being very strict. And giving out permits rather seldomly. I started getting nervous…

Even though I tried to prepare everything, I was missing one document, which I could only receive in Afghanistan. I asked my brother if he could go pick it up for me and send it to Germany via express mail. He agreed. Then something terrible happened. While he was on his way to the authority, a bomb exploded on the street and hit him. He got seriously injured and had to stay in hospital for many days. For a while, the doctors were uncertain whether he would survive or not.
I think I have never felt so bad in my entire life.

To know that my own brother had almost been killed, just because he was trying to get a little piece of paper that helped me build a new life in a different country – this thought made me stare into the dark many nights, being unable to rest or sleep. But he was very lucky and started to recover quickly.

I handed in the document and was told to wait.
So I waited. And waited. And waited.
Days and weeks passed. The uncertainty became unbearable. The situation was precarious, as my application’s refusal could have brought serious consequences with it. In the worst case even a deportation back to Afghanistan.

I wanted this apprenticeship so badly. It was the chance I was hoping for all these years. It had the potential to change so many things in my life.

Just sitting around waiting, not being able to do anything besides hoping, it was a big test to my will, my nerves and my determination.
I don’t know if I could have taken it to be so close to my end destination and then get rejected.
Finally, after more than a month, I received the call.
I got the working permit! A huge weight fell of my chest, and I felt like I could finally breathe again.
As unpleasant as this experience had been, it made me see even clearer how important this apprenticeship was to me. I knew that this was a changing point, from now my success will be dependent on me.

And there is one thing I know for sure: I will do anything, to use this chance.

My goals

From the beginning on it had been my goal to live in a country, where I could build up a safe life for myself. Now that I am in Germany and have started my apprenticeship, I feel like I am much closer to this goal.
I want to stand on my own feet, be independent and earn my own money. Go to work every morning and come home every night, exhausted from a long day, but happy because I know that it is all worth it. There is nothing that I would rather do, than start my own family and have my own kids, here in Germany. Provide for them and offer them a worry-free life. I want to stay here, improve my German and integrate so well that I become a fixed part of this society.

For a long time, all these goals seemed very far away, almost unreachable. Even though I was in a safe place, I had this feeling of being stuck.
That has changed.

Having an apprenticeship, gave me back the feeling that I am useful. Learning new things and earning my own money, gives me the feeling that I keep on growing whilst finally starting to stand on my own feet.

And to be invited to a job interview from an organisation as highly respected as Feinkost Käfer, to be valued and chosen amongst all the other applicants, gave me back a feeling, that I couldn’t even remember:
Proud. For the first time in a really long while I felt proud of myself.

Now I can look into the future with a big smile on my face

An extended thank you to our sponsors, UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, PIMCO foundation and Referat für Arbeit der Landeshauptstadt München: Münchner Beschäftigungs- und Qualifizierungsprogramm (MBQ), who made the Step-IN program possible.


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