Profile of Mohammad Yusufi

Apprenticeship with F status

«The apprenticeship is my chance to show that I've integrated»

Mohammad Yusufi (23) fled from Afghanistan as a teenager. He is now doing an apprenticeship at the Migros company Delica – even though he has only been temporarily admitted to Switzerland.

From
Barbara Scherer
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«A year ago, I saw the faces of my mother and my siblings for the first time in eight years in a video call. It was a touching moment. Before, I only ever had contact with my family by phone or text message. The reason for this was the political situation in Afghanistan.

I grew up there as the eldest of four siblings in a small village. When I was six years old, my father left us and we lived with my grandfather from then on. There is extreme poverty in my home country, and there are no prospects.

Fleeing from Afghanistan

I had to leave my home country at the age of 15 to be able to build a life for myself. It wasn't an easy decision for me or my family. My mother was very worried about me. After all, she didn't know what was going to happen to me.

I was often homesick and very scared while I was fleeing. Once, after two nights without sleep, I fell asleep completely exhausted in a refugee camp, and when I woke up, all the other refugees were suddenly gone. I then had to continue my journey all by myself, which was scary and stressful.

Most of the time, I just followed other refugees, but ultimately I had to fend for myself throughout the entire journey. So after about a year, I finally reached Switzerland and I was given accommodation in asylum centres. I've been given an F permit, which means that I'm only temporarily admitted to the country.

Arrival in Switzerland

My biggest culture shock was probably the fact that everyone in Switzerland is educated. Everyone here can read and write. I benefited from this because shortly after I arrived I was able to go to school to learn German.

After four years in Switzerland, I started looking for an apprenticeship. But that was a big challenge for me, partly because I didn't speak the language very well. But I still managed to find a job as an installation electrician. Unfortunately, that didn't work out, and I dropped out of the apprenticeship after a year and a half.

It wasn't a simple decision, but I realised that there was no other way forwards. I was insecure and really worried, because war had broken out again in Afghanistan at the time and my mother had to flee to Pakistan with my siblings.

I also struggled at vocational school. After all, I only went to school for five years in Afghanistan and I didn't learn much apart from writing and reading – and not properly either. It was a very intense time, and I did a lot of soul-searching, trying to find out who I actually am and what I want.

The way to Migros

So I applied for the apprenticeship preparation year at the Migros Group and was able to start an internship as a plant operator at the Migros cosmetics company Mibelle. But the work was a little too one-dimensional for me.

Then I discovered the profession of maintenance technician and was able to continue my internship in this field. I subsequently started an apprenticeship at Delica in Buchs, Aargau, in August 2023.

I like the fact that the work is varied and that I'm always on the move. I take care of home repairs, look after gardens and carry out minor plumbing work. This apprenticeship is my chance to show Switzerland that I've arrived and I've integrated.

Hope for the future

My greatest hope is that I can change my status from F to B in order to be allowed to stay in Switzerland. Then hopefully I can finally rent a room of my own and live independently of the state. I currently live in an asylum centre in Spreitenbach, Aargau.

Here, I share a room with an 18-year-old Afghan. The kitchen and bathroom are used by a total of eight people, so it's always busy and quite loud. It's exhausting and stressful because it makes it difficult for me to concentrate on studying for vocational school.

I often go for long walks in the woods at the weekend, so I can wind down and find peace. I also practise kung fu, which I taught myself with videos from the internet. Unfortunately, I can't afford to join a club at the moment.

But I'm not so worried about being deported. It is what it is: I can't control it. Instead, I'll concentrate on my apprenticeship and follow my chosen path.»