From refugee to lawyer

This content was published on June 17, 2017 - 11:00

Seth Médiateur Tuyisabe arrived in Switzerland as a refugee at the age of nine. Now he is taking exams to train as a lawyer. This is his story.

Civil war started in Burundi in 1993, and an attempt was made on the life of Seth’s father, a bank employee, who was forced to flee. He went to Switzerland, where fellow members of a Catholic community provided shelter. Back in Burundi, a close friend was blown up and killed by a road mine while using the family car.

Seth, his mother and siblings managed to get the last flight out of the country. They fled to Cameroon, where they stayed for two years, before joining Seth’s father in Switzerland. After arriving here, they lived in various asylum centres before finally settling down in Lausanne.

Coming from Burundi, they were amazed to see snow, a vast public transport network, people running for buses, public play parks, and the way in which some dogs are dressed up in clothes. 

Seth had already learnt French in Cameroon, which was a major help in integrating in Switzerland. But for him, the key to feeling at home was the warm reception he received from the people he first met here. Seth is an officer in the Swiss militia army. 

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