“Critical thinking is not tolerated in Ethiopia”

Apr 14, 2020.

Teferi Kassa feared for his life because of his involvement in a project for the repair and distribution of wheelchairs in Ethiopia. Since his escape in 2016, he has lived with his family in Baden and is awaiting the outcome of his asylum petition. He has always been concerned with the need to create a secure future for himself and others.

Even before I escaped, I had a connection to Switzerland. In Addis Ababa, I ran the workshop of the Swiss “Addis Guzo” association, where used wheelchairs from Switzerland are repaired and given to people in need. I found the work rewarding, because I have always been passionate about bringing industry and social work together.


But critical thinking is not tolerated in Ethiopia. When I went to court to defend the association’s cause, I was threatened. Finally, the fear of political persecution drove us to flee. 


“Switzerland is an oasis, but the long wait for the asylum decision was not easy at first.”

Since 2016, I have been living in Baden with my family. Switzerland is an oasis, but the long wait for the asylum decision, not being able to work, and now being dependent on others myself, has not been easy for me. 


As a graduate engineer, I am used to developing and implementing projects. That’s how I got the idea of using my experience in upcycling hospital and exercise equipment for a good cause here, as well. In the workshops of the Capacity start-up incubator, I received valuable help, good advice and constant encouragement. 


“I want to boost the self-confidence of young refugees.” 

The experience I gained helped me to found my own association, “Dreisprung” (triple jump in English). Since then, “Dreisprung” has been supporting young African refugees who, like me, are awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications. The young people are trained in metalworking and thus acquire professional, life and language skills. This experience builds their self-confidence and helps them integrate. Moreover, their work is useful: we send the mobility aids and hospital equipment to the Horn of Africa.


For me, it’s important to give my life meaning. I don’t know yet where this will take me. But thanks to “Dreisprung”, I can look ahead to the future with confidence.



Support for “Dreisprung”

The “Dreisprung” association is seeking partnerships, training rooms, administrative support and much more. Contact: csr.ch@generali.com


Capacity start-up incubator 

Capacity is a talent and start-up incubator for people with a refugee or migrant backgrounds. Every year the organisation runs two entrepreneurship programmes combining mentoring, workshops and training in business development and soft skills. The Human Safety Net, a foundation established by Generali Switzerland, has supported Capacity’s programmes since 2019.


More information on Capacity