Tadesse Abraham talks about The Human Safety Net Refugee Team

Tadesse Abraham, the fastest marathon runner in Switzerland, talks about his story and his integration as a refugee. He also tells us about the new initiative The Human Safety Net Refugee Team, which is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2020.  

Tadesse, when did you know you wanted to become a professional marathon runner?

I saw a friend of mine on television, participating in the European Championships, and I said to myself: Why not me? Why shouldn’t I try to qualify, too? That’s where I found my motivation. I thought to myself: It’s possible. Anything is possible if I work hard.



Tell us a little about yourself and your arrival in Switzerland.

I came to the Lake Zurich region of Switzerland (Uster) as a refugee in 2004. I was 22 years old. Everything was so different here. I didn’t know a single word of German and I had no knowledge of the culture. It was very hard to introduce myself, to approach people and get to know them. So, I told myself that I absolutely had to integrate as soon as possible, learn the language and adapt to this new culture. Integration is crucial.



How did you go about it?

Running allowed me to get closer to the locals and understand their culture and customs. That helped me a lot. When you arrive in a new country as a refugee, you don’t know anybody, you don’t know how the system works... At first, I wasn’t sure where to go or who to turn to.

Often, I would train alone or with a friend at the stadium in Uster. I was quite fortunate to meet members of the LC Uster. It was very important for me to have someone by my side to help me, motivate me, and show me what I can and need to do. And most of all support me. That’s exactly what the club offered. I can’t thank them enough, and the club is still dear to my heart. I wouldn’t have been able to integrate so quickly and easily without sport; it played an essential role in my integration.

"I saw a friend of mine on television, participating in the European Championships, and I said to myself: Why not me?"

Why did you get involved with The Human Safety Net?

When I found out that Generali Switzerland was specifically supporting refugees and people with an immigrant background through The Human Safety Net Switzerland Foundation, I was immediately interested. The idea that these people have a lot to contribute to Swiss society also ties in with my personal convictions. The most important thing is for people to have the chance to develop their full potential, regardless of the environment in which they grew up. To have opportunities. That’s the guiding principle of The Human Safety Net and these values are completely in line with my own.



What do you hope to accomplish with the THSN Refugee Team?

I want to help the people involved to follow their path. I want to be their big brother, support them, assist them, encourage them. I’ll always be there for them.



What message would you like to convey to young refugees and migrants?

My motto is “Nothing is impossible if you invest 100%. You have to believe in yourself and go for it. ”


More information about the THSN Refugee Team

The Human Safety Net


Launched by the Generali Group, The Human Safety Net is a global initiative that is now being rolled out in 21 countries around the world in partnership with numerous organisations. The network is composed of NGOs and social and academic institutions in addition to Generali. Mutual aid and solidarity are at the heart of the initiative. The aim is to give socially disadvantaged people the opportunity to develop their full potential so that they can lead a secure and self-reliant life. With The Human Safety Net Switzerland Foundation, Generali Switzerland has been part of this movement since 2018. Together with two partner organisations, we are committed to helping disadvantaged families in Switzerland and encouraging refugees and people with an immigrant background to develop their entrepreneurial skills.