Social integration runs with the #RefugeeTeam

Aspiring entrepreneurs and refugees who want to become professional runners have a lot in common: they need to follow their career path, take on risks, and literally stay one step ahead of the competition.

The latest project launched by The Human Safety Net in Switzerland unites refugees runners in the THSN Refugee Team: a team open to all refugees and migrants, created with and supported by Swiss fastest marathon athlete and a refugee himself, Tadesse Abraham. Thanks to Hospice général and professional coaches, aspiring pro-runners and amateurs alike get training and support, can envision a career as a professional runner or coach as they become more and more integrated in their host country.

Meet some of the first refugees who joined the team.

“Sport is life,” says Kidane. He left Eritrea in 2014 and didn’t have the financial resources to buy himself new running shoes, and was borrowing them from a friend for the competitions.

After joining the THSN refugee team, he could get a personal training plan and financial support to afford apparel and inscription fees to competitions: his performances are impressive: in October, he finished 2nd at the Swiss Championship’s Half marathon.

“I love to be part of a community, this running community. It keeps me motivated, as we all motivate each other”. Berihu also came from Eritrea alone in 2014. He speaks good French, and thanks to his determination, he also successfully finished an apprenticeship as a sales assistant.

“Sport is everything; sport is life.” Zafar is 23 years old. He came to Switzerland from Afghanistan in 2016 and joined the THSN Refugee Team with the dream of becoming a professional coach and to inspire others. Zafar doesn’t miss a single training, and he is motivating the team members to run with him during the week.

“Running is the best motivational tool for me. It brings me joy, keeps me and my body healthy”. Back in Eritrea, Awet used to run for one hour every day to go to school. In Switzerland, he has finally found a team and a coach that help him improve his results.

“I love how much energy I earn after running. I feel proud of myself after each training session. I am still exploring which running distance is my strength.” After coming to Switzerland in 2015 at 16 years old, Johannes got noticed by the PE teacher at school, who encouraged him to train regularly. He’s also a brilliant student who speaks fluent French. This year, he specializes in health studies ad next year, Johannes aims to start University to become a nurse.