Teferi Kassa uses his knowledge to help.

In this interview, the engineer talks about his life as a refugee.

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.

Why did you come to Switzerland?

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.

Why did you have to leave Ethiopia?

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. 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.

How did you manage to integrate into the world of work?

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.

And where did that lead you?

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.

And what does the future hold?

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.

Teferi Kassa

Teferi Kassa

Capacity program participants

Teferi Kassa has been living with his family in Switzerland since 2016. The graduate engineer uses his knowledge to teach other refugee youth. His association, “Dreisprung”, helps them to integrate into Swiss society and provides them with hope for the future.

Support “Dreisprung”

The association is searching for partnerships, locations to hold training sessions and administrative support.
Partnership: Capacity

Our partner Capacity brings locals and newcomers together with a focus on collaborative skill-sharing at its centre.  Capacity's Talent and Start-up Incubator runs an Entrepreneurship and an Access programme, both of which are aimed at people with a refugee or migrant background in Switzerland.