Skip to main content

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.

A portrait of Esperance, a Congolese refugee and IKEA Switzerland co-worker, smiling.

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.

EsperanceIKEA Apprentice

Co-workers make a difference

My colleagues at work are empathetic. Nice. Patient. Comprehensive. And open. We’re also friends. The majority of people who are here are older than me, but they’re really funny. We laugh a lot together and create a good atmosphere amongst each other.

Three IKEA co-workers stand side by side, wearing yellow shirts and face masks.

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.

Always believe in yourself

I don’t have a favourite photo that I took. All the people in my photos are very important to me. But the photo of me at work makes me very proud of myself – to see where I started and where I am now. It makes me think, bravo, Esperance. Always believe in yourself and that in life, good things will come.

Esperance, a Congolese refugee and IKEA co-worker, stands on a ladder reaching for a glass.

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.

EsperanceIKEA Apprentice

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.