Last week was one of the busiest, tiring weeks for me as a Filipino Community Lead in Germany. Yet, it was one of the most worthwhile team projects I have worked on. 17 Filipino healthcare workers, who freshly landed in Germany, were quarantined for 14days. Ideally, when they arrive and settle into the hospitals or elderly homes or nursing institutions, they open bank accounts, register themselves to the ‘Anmeldungstelle/Bürgerdienst’ in Rathaus (town office), and try to get to know their surroundings in a german town. But the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this usual routine. Instead of seeing flowers blooming during springtime, or maybe eating icecreams, or strolling through the city, they were asked to stay for 14 days just to make sure they didn’t have the symptoms before they get deployed to their respective health institutions.
When our Business Development Head, Thomas asked me to assist him with the project, I agreed to help without hesitation. Being a migrant myself, I have been there, and I know how it feels settling in a new land in a very ‘unique’ situation, doubting your language proficiency and thinking about your family back home. Germans are very helpful, yet a person speaking your native language in a foreign land assures one that everything will be alright.
So my first question is, how do we make it as easy as 1-2-3 for them. We planned to introduce ourselves to the group personally, but due to the countrywide COVID-19 restrictions, we opted to use technology to e-meet all of them, yes, through Zoom. The links were sent to all their email addresses, so they could join using a specified time. But before meeting them, they needed to have an activated German sim card for the onboarding.
We bought and sent them individual sim cards, packed them in individual kits, wrote personal welcome letters, instructional guides on how to activate their sim cards, and their onboarding links to theirfirst EU IBAN Accounts. The e-welcoming was scheduled on Thursday, as they were all leaving the following day. Their package arrived on Wednesday, but it needed to be picked up from the post branch. We were hoping and praying that the kits would be handed out to them on time.
When the meeting started, welcoming these talented and dedicated Filipino health care workers was indeed positively refreshing. The most beautiful part was our genuine gratitude for their engagement helping and taking care of patients in hospitals and elderly homes and seeing those beautiful smiles across our screens. That is how Filipino hospitality is, that feeling of making you feel at home. One of Rewire’s core values.
Thomas and I were still nervous to announce that their sim cards had to be picked up in the nearby post branch when another batch of nurses took out all the sim cards and gave them to the rest of the group. It is like the forces of the universe were helping us do the welcoming. Our members of our operations team were on stand-by checking the documents and approving each account. By the end of the day, 80% had their IBAN accounts, and the other 20% of the people got them the following morning.
The most rewarding part of community management is not the number of active users made in a day, but the impact one made for others. Helping migrants obtain their financial freedom in a foreign country is empowering.
I agree with Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly, “Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.” Indeed these migrants are not alone; they have a financial institution, which makes them feel welcome and at home.