A work of love: Sasha's story
Alexandr Barabash or Sasha, as many call him, did not know much Portuguese when he moved here from Ukraine in 2001. Married and with a child, he had been encouraged to work abroad by his family members as the job opportunities in Ukraine were slim and did not allow him to provide for his family.
A dedicated and hard-working individual, Sasha’s first two years in Portugal were spent working for an aluminum windows and doors company. His tasks included preparing the materials necessary for the manufacturing process. The next few years, Sasha began taking up odd-jobs as a truck driver, a season that at times proved to be difficult due to the long hours away from his family.
“It was hard because I didn’t know the language,” he said. “But since I was young, I also thought it was interesting. There were good times and bad times.”
Soon after, Sasha entered a season of unemployment, a hardship that ended up being a blessing in disguise. Together with his friends and Friends of Portugal ambassadors Walter Klause and Otto Ekk, he joined Sete Casas, a social project that would give them the opportunity to connect with local people and sharing with them the love and hope derived from their Christian faith.
Up until that point, Sasha’s previous jobs had little to do with his ultimate passion: electronics. Working with Sete Casas gave him the opportunity to do what he loved, which involved repairing appliances and restoring items to be resold at an affordable price.
Friends of Portugal provided him with a monthly stipend in exchange for Sasha’s services as the Sete Casas manager, overseeing not just the work itself but also the interns and volunteers that work there.
Being able to do what he loved, inspired Sasha to purse further education in the field of mechatronics, a field that combines mechanics and electronics. The flexibility of his work at Friends of Portugal allowed him to go to school but still provide for his family.
He completed the mechatronics course with much success and was soon offered a full-time job as an electronics technician at a very good Portuguese company following an internship he had there.
“What I loved about that time was the fact that I had a lot of flexibility to work, go to school and serve God through my work at my church, “ he said. “I was also getting the chance to work at something that I loved, the field of electronics itself and the Sete Casas project.”
Those that have worked with Sasha over the years have nothing but great things to say to about him. Friends of Portugal European director, Hendrik Von Niessen said he has enjoyed getting to know Sasha over the years.
“I really appreciate him and appreciate that he has been stick with us in the good days and the more difficult days,” Von Niessen said. “He’s been very loyal, serving, patient and dedicated. He is a great professional and a great friend and leader.”
As the Sete Casa project is transferred to different management this year, Sasha remembers how much of a blessing working in the Sete Casas was for him. Since arriving in Portugal he has been blessed with three more children and a much more stable financial condition.
He is thankful for the open hearts that welcomed him when he most needed it.
“My journey hasn’t been easy, but it’s also been fruitful,” he said. “Because of all that I’ve been through, I now have more professional experience and more stability. I thank God for the opportunity to have worked on this project and to all of the people that in one way or another were involved with Sete Casas. When I think about the project I often think about the verse John 13:35 which says ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’”
Indeed Sasha is a great example of someone dedicated to loving and helping others, using his skills for the benefit of those who most need it.