Asylum seekers Hamid and Mohammed from Afghanistan are hiking across Switzerland as an exercise in integration. On this part of their journey, they share their stories with their first Swiss hosts.
They have been in the spotlight because they are hiking around Switzerland as part of their attempts to integrate in their host country, and to make good use of their time while they are awaiting a decision on their asylum applications, as they are not allowed to work.
Their accommodation was organised through a social media campaign. Swiss people not only fed them and put them up overnight, but also gave them gifts. At their first stop in Sissach, canton Basel Country, they receive waterproof clothing, which helped them to brave sometimes hostile weather conditions. But only one of them is allowed to stay the night because of legal issues.
Hamid and Mohammed are both 26 years-old and ethnic Hazaras. They fled war in their country in 2015. Hamid is a trained builder and Mohammed is a maths teacher in his native Afghanistan. They are based at asylum centres in canton Aargau, and met playing football.
As both are sporty, and undertook much of the 7000 km journey to Switzerland on foot, the prospect of hiking 30 km per day around Switzerland was not too daunting. Their mission is to get to know their host country and its inhabitants, and represent asylum seekers in a positive way. (SRF, swissinfo.ch)