WAR IN UKRAINE. Kateryna Fursa came to Sweden as a refugee from Ukraine in spring 2022. She has now been hired as a research assistant at the Institute for health and care sciences at University of Gothenburg. The arrangement benefits everyone. Kateryna can support herself and her children, and the project now has access to necessary skills.
When explosions from Russia’s attacks began rumbling in Odesa in March 2022, Kateryna Fursa realized that she and her two sons, ages 10 and 16, needed to leave the country. They took the journey by car, but Sweden became their final destination purely by chance. In Romania, they ran into and joined acquaintances from home who were headed north.
“At first, I thought we would need to stay a few weeks, maybe a month. Then for the summer. Now I hope we can return to Odesa in the spring,” says Kateryna.
Katarina’s husband is still at home in Odesa. Because he is male, he cannot leave the country.
“He is a lawyer and he helps the military and the country’s defense to the best of his ability in his free time. We’re in touch several times a day. The electricity is often cut off and networks are unstable, so contact isn’t possible on some days,” says Kateryna, who now lives with their children in an apartment in Malmö.
An opportunity to help
Kateryna spent the first months in Sweden getting the family’s life in order: housing, school for the kids, ensuring all documents were in place.
Meanwhile, Madeleine Liljegren, a doctoral student in the research project OUT-FIT, needed a research assistant for assessment and registration of data from the project, in order to accelerate the dataprocessing. She and her supervisors realized the recruitment could be an opportunity to also help a refugee from Ukraine in a difficult situation. They contacted the Swedish Public Employment Service who could not get any help finding the right person to hire, but they could provide a grant to partly fund the position.
Senior lecturer Anna Bengtsson at SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) in Alnarp, one of the supervisors for the doctoral project, posted the position in a Facebook group for refugees from Ukraine.
“We’re working on an enormous project, mapping outdoor environments at all institutionalized residential care for frail older people throughout Sweden, and we needed an assistant to help us assess and categorize the architectural blueprints. We only had two requirements for applicants. They needed to speak English and be able to read architectural blueprints,” explains Madeleine.
Grant from the University
With her background as an interior architect, Kateryna had the necessary skills, and she got the job.
“To get all of the funding together for the position, we applied for money from the University’s special provision to support researchers from Ukraine. While Kateryna may not be a researcher with a degree, her tasks in the research project are essential for its implementation. With this argument our application was accepted at Sahlgrenska Academy,” says Professor Helle Wijk, principal supervisor of the doctoral project.
To date, Kateryna has managed to process and categorize about a tenth of all the blueprints that will be analyzed for the project. She has also helped develop the matrix used for the categorization process, and now that it is in place, the research group expects the work to accelerate. They hope to be able to extend Kateryna’s employment by another year. Partial funding from the Swedish Public Employment Service is already in place. At the same time, Kateryna maintains hope that the war will end soon, so that she can return to Odesa.
BY: ELIN LINDSTRÖM