Kenyan Facing Deportation Over Breastfeeding

Dzine Sakina Polle Baby Dahlia
Kenyan lady, Dzine Sakina Polle and her daughter, Baby Dahlia

The 24 year old Kenyan girl, Dzine Sakina Polle,  has to choose between breastfeeding her child and quitting her Ausbildung or stop breastfeeding and be deported.

Dzine came to Germany in 2011 as an au pair and is currently doing her ausbildung as a Hotelfachfrau in Timmendorf. She gave birth to her child less than 9 weeks ago. Problem is, she lives in Lübeck which is 15 kilometres from where she works and cannot therefore regularly breastfeed, her new born child.

“It’s [breastfeeding] a feeling that makes me so happy,” Dzine said as she held her baby, “However, I cannot breastfeed my baby regularly if I have to drive 15 km from Lübeck to Timmendorf to work all day at the hotel.”

The young single mother broke up with her baby daddy and now has to take care of the child on her own. However, as a non-EU national who hasn’t paid into the social system, she is not entitled to parental allowance (Elterngeld) or parental leave (Elternzeit). She cannot take a break to take care of her child, because then her visa would be invalid, requiring her to be deported back to Kenya. “But where will the baby stay and who should feed her [if I don’t work]?”

The midwife noticed Dzine’s quagmire and notified Friederike Garbe, who runs the Agape Haus in Lübeck, a home for mothers in distress. Garbe did not hesitate and she took in the mother and newborn immediately: “It is deeply unfair that mothers like Dzine are not entitled to parental leave. How are they supposed to juggle all this?”, Garbe asks.

With her accommodation taken care of at the Agape Haus, Dzine now needs to find an Ausbildung position in Lübeck and possibly a nanny for her child when she returns to work. Her current employer was kind enough to give her an unpaid leave until end of this year.

Garbe hopes to talk to the Ausländerbehörde for a compromise. In the meantime, Dzine’s only wish for Christmas this year is “to get an Ausbildung position in Lübeck, find a nanny and well-wishers willing to help her and her daughter”.

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Anyone been through this? From my point of view (which is NOT expert advice), this lady is on the very least entitled to Mutterschutz, which is at least 3 months paid leave after giving birth. Moreover, she may also add on her annual leave for 2014 (if she hadn’t already taken it) and the same for 2015. 

In addition, Elternzeit and Elterngeld is not reserved to EU nationals only, maybe for non-working individuals. Both depend on how long you have worked for your current employer and how much you earn. Read (ElternzeitElterngeld and Mutterschutz)

However, a huge problem I have with this Ausbildung story though, is that when they are deducting sozialbeiträge from your income, then they consider you an employee BUT when you try to enjoy the benefits of being an employee, they remind you that you are an Azubi. Treat Azubis as students or as employees, don’t switch when it suits the system.

My advice to this lady would be to get someone who knows the system and the legal laws to advice her, not just someone who is kind and willing to help the helpless. The lady seems to be currently in a fix with very little correct/factual information. Visit your nearest Caritas and/or Diakonie and ask about your rights. In the hotel you work at, check if they have a Betriebsrat, they should be able to advise you accordingly and if need be, they (Betriebsrat) may fight for your rights from your employer. If you can, check out if you can find a labour law lawyer who works in your area (or on the internet) who can advice. You can only get your rights if you fight for them using the law and facts, pity won’t take you far.

Translated by Mkenya from the original German article on the NDR.

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