Today we are speaking with Tanya Chechkova, a lawyer at FAR in Plovdiv. In this interview you can find out what it is like for her to work at the Foundation, how she handles the challenges and what she dreams of.!
Annie: Hello, dear Tanya! I welcome you to the "Faces of FAR" column as our heroine today. Thank you so much for accepting the invitation. You have just recently joined the FAR team. How do you feel here?
Tanya: I feel like I'm in the right place and among the right people. I have been practicing law for almost 12 years. It is only now that I have become part of the FAR team that I feel like a full-fledged lawyer doing something meaningful. Something that makes a difference in the lives of the people seeking our help.
I used to do civil, administrative law, which is a little different from what FAR is doing. But really, I feel like I'm in the right place here.
Annie: What do you like most about the work FAR does?
Tanya: What I like the most is that there is a moral element to it and also the purely real-life side of things. The fact that we are helping people who have fundamentally changed their lives, who are forced to live in a completely foreign environment in another country. They are obliged to adapt to its economic, cultural, and social conditions. The people who seek our help (in terms of refugee law) are quite different from those who are outside the scope of our work. We enter a more friendly communication with them. Often, they also ask purely everyday life questions, and we do our best to help them.
Here the moral element is very strongly touched upon and that is what is so different.
Our help changes people's lives!
Annie: What are some of the difficulties do you face?
Tanya: What has made a big impression on me, without wanting to sound discriminatory, is that the refugees are very executing, despite their language barrier and the need for an interpreter.
The difficulties stem rather from the communication point of view. I have a case of people from X. who are located some distance away from Plovdiv, with whom we have no live communication. We communicate online.
Sometimes I must react very quickly. Quite recently I had a case where people who had been denied international protection were literally abandoned by an NGO. I had to get very quickly involved in that case so that I could study the facts and provide help.
The second problem is that I lack practical experience in refugee and migration law. I feel it is a practical difficulty.
The third difficulty, which is more of a challenge for me and my colleague, is how to reach as many refugees as possible. So far, we have mainly worked with refugees accommodated at "Second Home". We are constantly assisting them with whatever we can. They already know very well about us. But we want to reach out to a wider network of people outside this centre so that we could assist them as well.
We need to broaden our outreach so that we can reach these people, because some of them may not use the Internet or social media. We need to find a new approach.
Annie: You mentioned that you're not alone in dealing with these difficulties, that you have a colleague. Could you tell us a little bit about him and your work together?
Tanya: He and I have a very good working relationship, he's very organized in the administrative part, has great communication skills, particularly in making first contact. He's quite quick and efficient at work, whereas I'm a bit slower.
Annie: How did you learn about FAR?
Tanya: I remember I received a very nice email through the platform of the Plovdiv Bar Association, if I am not mistaken. I liked FAR's message. I looked at the main page, the platform, the information about the team members. I liked everything and decided to apply. I am very happy that I was approved!
Annie: How did you feel back then?
Tanya: I remember the interview on the 14th of September with lawyer Valeria Ilareva and Ildiko Otova. I was extremely excited because this is a dream job for me. I have been practicing law for almost 12 years. But I have always believed that human rights law is one of the most valuable areas of law where you can feel not only like a lawyer, but also like a person who can help and positively change lives.
Annie: And why did you decide to become a lawyer in the first place?
Tanya: This is entirely my sister's contribution. I wanted to do international relations and diplomacy. That was my main focus. But, under the sway of my sister, who considered Law to be more encompassing and its application more practical, I enrolled to study Law. At no point did I regret it because Law offers very broad opportunities. And diplomacy remained an unfulfilled dream.
Annie: What inspires you?
Tanya: What I see in people's eyes, their calm and the security they feel that there is someone who will help them. They say that before they encountered FAR and got legal aid from us, they didn't know how to defend their rights, they were in a limbo.
The very fact that a lawyer is listed on their documents changes the whole situation for them.
Annie: How did your life change after you became a part of FAR?
Tania: For me, working in FAR is a blessing. I prayed to God to give me a legal job with a noble motive and cause. When I started working for FAR, I noticed a positive change in my entire work. So, it appears that even in view of my other activities, I am always helping those who have suffered and who are on the side of what is good and right.
When the person is engaged in good deeds, which are unquestionably our cause as well, God gives them even more blessings in other aspects as well.
Annie: It really is so. Truely you have a dream come true. And what else do you dream about?
Tanya: I really dream of getting to the point where I can give all of myself to charitable causes for people in need.