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“They are my secret weapon,” reveals Dennis Koole. He is REMONDIS’ project leader at the former Opel factory in Bochum and is proud to have these two sorters on his team. A few months back, though, he had been unsure whether to take them on or not as both Marko Idzanovic (51) and Burhan Yorulmaz (28) are deaf. Dennis Koole, however, decided to give them this opportunity.
Both Marko and Burhan’s body language makes it very clear just how grateful they are. In fact, Marko would like to stay and work at the plant until he retires – there is nothing else he would rather do. It was love that brought him to Germany last year; he had previously worked as a construction site assistant in Croatia. Burhan’s dream is to become a pilot but this will certainly be very difficult. He is not even allowed to use his fork-lift truck licence at the plant in Bochum. It is simply too much of a risk. He himself believes that it is not a problem for him to drive a fork-lift truck but the company is not so sure. Marko and Burhan are both keen supporters of digitisation as any form of technology that automatically transforms the spoken word into the written word or that can provide visual driver assistance will help bring ‘normality’ into their lives. And this is also the reason why they always have their mobile on them as they communicate with their colleagues via the phone’s screen. They use their own language, of course, when they talk to one another.
“No-one else works as hard or as fast as they do.”
Paul Gessner, Team & Shift Leader
Marko could only communicate using Croatian sign language before he came to Germany but it only took him a few weeks to learn the German equivalent. Sign language differs from country to country. The sign for waste – a gesture showing something being thrown away – is similar in many countries. As there is not a specific sign for recycling, the two use the sign that means making something new from something old. Which describes their work perfectly. Every month, they sort 42 tonnes of cardboard, 20 tonnes of wood, 4 tonnes of plastic film, 12 tonnes of scrap metal as well as aluminium and cables so that they can be recycled and reused to make new products – helping to conserve our planet’s natural resources and protect the environment. The more the better, as far as they are concerned. Indeed, the sight of any unsorted materials – no matter how small the amount – makes them nervous. They hate seeing their workplace untidy.
“No-one else works as hard or as fast as they do,” commented Paul Gessner, their team and shift leader. All of their colleagues have learned the most important signs to make them feel at home in their team. Marko and Burhan have proven to be a great asset. “Their hard work, their self-irony, their mindfulness and, above all, their ability to see and note exactly what’s going on around them – these are things we can all learn from. They are a role model for us all and I’m going to do everything possible to make sure they never want to leave,” Paul Gessner concluded.