About us Every face has a story: Embaba’s success story

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Embaba first came to Switzerland around four years ago and has now been with Valeriana for almost two of those years. She has basically been there since the very beginning and has become an integral part of our team. That is why we think that it’s about time that you get to know her and her personal success story!

We met with Embaba for an interview at our Valeriana office. She didn’t come alone but brought her 17-year-old son Nathan with her. Despite the fact that Embaba already speaks and understands German rather well, she has asked Nathan to come along to help translate for his mum. Nathan currently attends vocational school and would like to work in the medical field later, preferably as a doctor.

When Nathan translates, you can tell how proud he is of his mother. Especially because she recently got a new job as a caretaker. We’ll let Embaba tell the story of how she got the job…

Valeriana: Dear Embaba, how did you first hear about Valeriana back in the day? 

Embaba: I found out about Valeriana through my friend Nardos. Nardos is a hairdresser and then also started working at Valeriana. The day that Nardos told me about Valeriana, my permit had just changed from N to F. So, in the beginning, I wasn’t completely sure whether my email with the application would be accepted. But then I got a positive answer, which I was, of course, very happy about.

Valeriana: In your own words, can you tell us what you do at Valeriana? 

Embaba: At Valeriana, I take care of my clients’ households. I make everything clean and tidy so that they can feel comfortable in their homes. This also includes direct contact with the customers and friendly exchange. 

Valeriana: What makes Valeriana customers special? Is there a nice little story you could tell us?

Embaba: The clients are all really nice and friendly. I remember an elderly lady whom I helped with her household chores when I first started at Valeriana. She was really friendly and would always look after me while I worked. And for Christmas, several clients gave me chocolate and other things as a present. That was very thoughtful.

Valeriana: Do you celebrate Christmas?

Embaba: Yes, we celebrate Christmas. However, we celebrate Orthodox Christmas on 7 January. So, we get to celebrate Christmas twice (Embaba and Nathan laugh).

Valeriana: What do you like the most about Valeriana? 

Embaba: What I like the most about Valeriana are the language courses and training sessions. The German courses are really great and are essential for me. I especially like the fact that we communicate a lot and learn new words. The cleaning training sessions have also helped me to learn how to work even more efficiently. I have learned a lot about how to handle various cleaning products and also how to work ergonomically. And the Valeriana team and the clients are always great and very nice.

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Valeriana: Have your German skills improved since joining Valeriana? 

Embaba: Yes, absolutely! I had already taken a German course before, when my children were still in Eritrea. That is why I couldn’t really focus on studying German at the time, because I was thinking about them. Fortunately, they are now here in Switzerland with me, and so I can really concentrate on the course and learn a lot of new things.

Valeriana: Do you feel better integrated into society since joining Valeriana?

Embaba: Yes, Valeriana has helped me a lot with my integration. I think that language is the most important thing in that regard. My work gives me the opportunity to talk to a lot of interesting people. I also get to know the local environment much better. Since I have many different clients who live in many different places, I also get to know a lot of new areas in the Zurich region.

Valeriana: Do you have more contact with Swiss and other people through Valeriana? 

Embaba: I have definitely met more Swiss people and speak much more German than in the beginning. When I first joined, I didn’t have a lot of contact with Swiss people. I have also become much more open and gained more confidence to talk to people in the first place. It gets easier with time. 
Valeriana: Have you made any friends through Valeriana?

Embaba: I have met many good friends here, especially other Valeriana women. I knew Nardos from before, but I met Selemawit at Valeriana. We talk a lot also meet up privately with our children. We also go to the German language course together and chat. She’s very nice. Maria Magdalena is also great. (laughs)

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Valeriana: We have heard that you’ve found a new job as a caretaker. Congratulations dear Embaba (everyone claps)! How did you find out about the job? 
Embaba: I recently became a caretaker in the building I live in. That’s very practical. The former caretaker, a Swiss woman, used to be our neighbour. She went into retirement and recommended me and gave me the chance to apply. Then I got the job!

Valeriana: What do you do in your job as a caretaker? 

Embaba: I do work outside and inside the building. Among other things, I work outside in the garden. In the autumn, I rake leaves and shovel snow. My husband Michael helps me in the garden. Then I take care of the hallway and the staircase.

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Valeriana: Have the knowledge and the certificates that you acquired at Valeriana through the German courses and the training sessions helped you get the job?

Embaba: Yes, very much so! They helped a lot! Especially when applying for a new job, it’s essential to have taken a few courses and have a certificate. And the German courses and training sessions didn’t just help me with finding a job but also with my residence permit. The fact that I have permanent employment with Valeriana and now even a second job is great. Next, I’m hoping for a B permit.

Valeriana: That’s great to hear, Embaba! We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it all works out! 

Embaba: Thank you so much! 

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Valeriana: What would you like to do in the future? 

Embaba: In the future, it would be fun to work as a cook. I enjoy cooking very much and watch many cooking shows on TV or on YouTube and then I cook the dishes myself. For example, I like cooking Jamie Oliver’s recipes. He has these great 30-minute recipes with just a few ingredients, where you can quickly make something really delicious. I think that that’s really great because traditional Eritrean dishes usually take a bit of time. Especially with children and work, quick and delicious recipes like that are really great.

Valeriana: What do you wish for the future? 

Embaba: My wish is that Valeriana gets bigger and bigger so that more and more women can get a chance as well. Many women struggle with finding a job because they don’t speak the language so well yet. Valeriana will definitely boost their confidence — because when you’re new here and only sit at home, go to the local supermarket, do your work at home and don’t meet anyone, you won’t know learn how life in Switzerland works. That’s where Valeriana comes in to support women in really getting started.

Thank you dear Embaba for the interview!

To be continued: 
  • Meet Nardos, another one of our collaborators since the early days and good friend of Embaba. 

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