‘Helping someone only requires a little time and a sympathetic ear’

In 2019, Sophie (42) started as a volunteer at France Terre d'asile. She wanted to help refugees integrate in the country. It was soon after that she met Souse from Ethiopia, his wife Bountou and their two children. Since then they have built a friendship that continues to this day. ‘I want to treat others the way I would like to be treated myself.’

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Sophie often visit Souse and Bountou and is welcomed like a member of the family.  ‘They are such a warm family’, Sophie says. ‘They have an incredible sense of hospitality. I try to visit outside meal times as I don’t want to add to their workload, but in the end, Bountou and Souse always manage to convince me to stay for dinner.’ Souse: ‘Sophie is our family.’

Since obtaining his refugee status, Souse's priority has been to find a job in France. Sophie supported him in his efforts: she has helped him write his CV, guided him through the administrative procedures and advises him as much as she can. Sophie: ‘Refugees are facing so many obstacles in order to integrate and access the professional world. I admire Souse's perseverance, as he remains undaunted despite all these challenges.’

‘Expression of humanity’ 

Sophie also helped Souse and Bountou's eldest daughter (6), when she started school. Her parents did not speak French yet, and found it difficult to support her in her schooling. It was during the school holidays that Sophie offered a refresher course and helped her understand the school system a little better. Since then, her level and French has progressed.

Sophie grew up in Germany, a country that was not her country of origin. Her father, originally from former Yugoslavia, was able to leave before the war broke out. Sophie grew up with the knowledge that atrocities all over the world force people to leave everything behind, having to rebuild their lives somewhere else. Sophie: ‘I volunteer because I want to treat others the way I would like to be treated myself. For me, my work is an expression of humanity and an opportunity to maybe not change the world, but maybe influence it a little bit and positively impact the lives of other people. In the end, it only requires a little time and a sympathetic ear.’