Sodaba Bashiri, Afghan, just turned 26, gets along very well with her classmates, all Swiss and almost 10 years younger than her with a completely different life path behind them. Sodaba is in her 1st year of an IT apprenticeship at SBB and the road there was truly long…
Changing countries 4 times
She was born in Pakistan after her parents had to flee Afghanistan from the Taliban for the first time. In early 2000, after the fall of the Taliban, the family was able to live in Afghanistan again, but 10 years later, when the situation became too dangerous again for certain of their family members, they had to leave their home country a second time. They came to Dubai. The father found a job there, but with such a low salary that it was only enough for one of his three children to study. So the family of 5 moved , to Denmark, where most of their relatives lived, all of whom had fled Afghanistan. Sodaba and her family lived in Denmark for 8 months, but had to move again when their asylum application was rejected. The 4th time changing countries and the 4th time trying to build a livelihood.
Technical flair in the family
But finally it seems to be working out – Sodaba, who has completed the Powercoders program in Switzerland as well as two internships, has had an apprenticeship for 6 months! She says, “It’s crazy, 6 years ago we arrived in Switzerland with our luggage on an SBB train. And now I’m working for them.”
Sodaba has been fascinated by IT for as long as she can remember. She started acquiring knowledge in this domain at an early age and in her childhood, she had proudly owned a desktop when no one had one around her. She definitely inherited the technical flair from her parents. Her mother had a bachelor’s degree from Kabul Polytechnic and her father had a master’s degree in electrical engineering and had his own electrical company back home.
An opportunity for two out of five family members
Sodaba’s sister has also found an apprenticeship in Switzerland, but her brother is still looking for professional integration after 6 years. And for the mother and father, luck has not been on their side either, they are still without a job in Switzerland.
Sodaba feels very grateful for what she has received at SBB, but at the same time she puts a lot of pressure on herself because she says to herself, “I have to be good and prove myself, I don’t want to disappoint anyone, and certainly not myself. I’ve been given a chance, so I can’t mess it up at any cost. There are many people in the same situation as me who have not been given a chance.”
“It hurts when you can’t call any place your ‘home’.”
What is going on in her home country of Afghanistan is very difficult for her to bear, to have to watch without being able to do anything. The Taliban, from whom her parents had to flee 20 years ago, took power again – on 15 August 2021 – one day before she started her apprenticeship.
“It hurts, I have no place to call home,” she says. Her parents’ generation already had to flee, her generation too, and now the new generation again.
Not giving up pays off
Sodaba and her family have no passports, Afghanistan does not issue them any. That’s why they can’t apply for a B permit in Switzerland and still have the F permit, which declares them “provisionally admitted” yet SBB believed in her and offered her the apprenticeship. On the other hand, Sodaba’s parents and siblings are so extremely proud of their daughter/sister when someone asks them what she does and they can tell them with pride that Sodaba has an apprenticeship at SBB. “She made it” – they always say gracefully.