From Challenges to Change – My Belgian Journey

Dear friends, hello. Last week marked my first live stream, and today, we continue this new tradition. I hope you’re ready with your questions for me. Today, I’m eager to share my Belgian story with you.

In 2006, at the age of 22, I arrived in Belgium to live with my former partner. He was an entrepreneur with clothing stores in Antwerp, Charleroi, and Brussels. Shockingly, despite his hard work and contribution to the economy, we found ourselves living in conditions worse than those unemployed or reliant on social security—some of whom lived almost villa-like. He explained that the high taxes for entrepreneurs made owning a business less advantageous, yet he preferred the independence of entrepreneurship over the dependency on social security.

Equally shocking was the realization that individuals on long-term social security, without employment or job-seeking efforts, lived in better conditions than us. This disparity seemed fundamentally unfair, highlighting flaws in a system where those contributing through work and taxes found themselves worse off than those not contributing to society.

Returning to Belgium in 2011 after my studies in Germany, pregnant and with a looming dissertation deadline for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation scholarship, I faced immense pressure. With a newborn daughter and a dissertation due in December 2011, I feared unemployment in the face of financial constraints. Despite my language skills in French, English, and German, navigating the Belgian job market was daunting, especially without fluency in Dutch.

In search of opportunities, I found a role at Volvo Action Service, offering assistance to drivers across Europe. This role provided a dynamic international environment, though it was a temporary position with weekly contracts. Later, I transitioned to a customer relations position with monthly contracts, experiencing the instability of working for years without a permanent contract in Belgium—a practice I found deeply unfair.

Belgium, a democracy with strong Belgian and European legal frameworks, offers avenues for change. I’ll share more about my Belgian experiences, including founding my company in 2018, in future live streams.

A question I received touches on my identity: as someone of Ukrainian origin working on projects about Ukraine, what makes me Belgian? It’s not just citizenship. My story is deeply entwined with Belgium—my life here since 2011, my children’s education in Flemish schools, and my engagement with the local community in Zellik and Asse reflect my integration and contribution to Belgian society.

Choosing to represent a VOOR U party in the European Parliament stems from shared values—liberal ideals, a vision for a better Europe and Flanders, human rights, and improved migration conditions align with my beliefs and European values. These are the 12 principles guiding my candidacy.

I look forward to addressing more of your questions in our next session. If you have queries, please write them down, and I’ll do my best to respond.

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