From the Republic of the Congo to Switzerland – meet Esperance
My name is Esperance. I am 24 years old and I am Congolese. I am an apprentice at IKEA and I’ve lived in Switzerland for almost three years.
I consider myself a woman who’s a fighter. If I fight, I can realise my dreams: to sing, to dance and do all the things that make me happy. All of these things demand energy and courage.
At first, starting work at IKEA was a little bit difficult. But from day to day, it got better. I learned a lot and I met many people who helped me along the way. Now, I know how to act around clients. I’m also flexible, nice and can help people if they need help. I’m organised, too.
My work is important because it grounds me. Work makes you a person of value in society. For me, this is important because from a young age, I had to fight in order to survive. I didn’t want to depend on people; I wanted to be independent. But if you want to be independent, you need to find work.”
For the time being, I don’t miss my country very much. It was different at the beginning; I missed my country a lot and I thought often about the people back home. It was very hard for me. Because when you start a new life, you don’t know anybody and you need to learn everything.
And yes, you have problems – but those get better if you have friends at your side who can support you. Right now, it’s ok. But during the moments that I miss my country, I dance. That’s my coping strategy.
My secret talent? I’m really funny; I don’t know if a lot of people know that. My friends and all the people close to me know that I like to tell jokes and create a light atmosphere. I also like to dance and sing, especially religious songs. I’m religious myself.
My dreams for the future are to learn German and speak it very well. Also, I want to finish my internship. Afterwards, I want to find a good job. And afterwards, everything will fall into place.
Refugees are people; their refugee status is just what fate handed to them. These are people who deserve love and have their own dreams. There are many people who simply can’t be in their countries – but they were happy there and had good lives. Here in Europe, it’s not that easy for them.”
Refugees deserve respect and acknowledgement that they’re regular people, just like everybody else.
I would like to encourage people like me – refugees – to believe in the future. Because the future always holds good things for us, and we never know what awaits us. We need to believe in the future.