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An apprentice to show off:

Nouria Soltani was the first refugee to prematurely complete her apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory technician with very good results and is now working in her dream job. But since her flight from Afghanistan in 2010, the times have not always been consistent for the 20-year-old – and her life could still change abruptly today.


Monday morning.

Like all other Roche employees, Nouria Soltani comes to the Roche campus after the weekend. She puts on her lab coat, greets her colleagues and begins her work in the laboratory.

When Nouria flees Afghanistan with her parents and three siblings in the summer of 2010, she initially lives in Holland for almost three years. Nouria attends school, makes friends and eagerly learns Dutch and English. Unexpectedly, the asylum application is rejected and she and her family seek refuge in Germany.


From Afghanistan to Penzberg with detours

Nouria landed in Geretsried – a small community in Bavaria, about 25 kilometres from Penzberg. Another attempt to settle in to a foreign environment. Here, too, Nouria attended school and began to develop her passion for chemistry. In autumn 2014, her chemistry teacher gave her the idea of applying for an apprenticeship at Roche. "I thought to myself, 'Why not? I have nothing to lose and chemistry is my favorite subject'," says Nouria. So she applied – with success.


Nervousness, excitement and a little fear of the big day:

Nouria is the first and only refugee to start in the trainee year 2015 at Roche in Penzberg.

“I was worried that I was somehow 'different' from the others," recalls Nouria. In addition, there are many technical terms in the chemical field! She speaks German fluently, but this vocabulary can be a challenge – even for native speakers. But Nouria was relieved when she arrived: "Just the fact that it is possible to wear a headscarf in a company like Roche gave me the feeling that I was accepted here.


he other apprentices and volunteers help Nouria settle in.

Even after class, employees volunteer to help her with tutoring – including learning vocabulary. With success: Nouria has such good grades that she can finish her apprenticeship half a year before the normal time. In January of this year, she receives the approval of HR: From July, she will be taken on as a chemical laboratory assistant in her desired department.


A life of uncertainty – and yet full of hope

"I remember exactly that day, I was very happy. I spent my second phase of my practice in this department and felt very comfortable there. It was really a relief to know that, thanks to Roche, I had a job that I enjoyed and at the same time had a nice team," says Nouria. But Nouria is still burdened with a great deal of uncertainty. While her father and sister are recognised in Germany, her own asylum procedure, that of her mother and her two brothers, is still in progress.

By now, it has been five years in which Nouria and her family wait daily for the decision. She feels the effects every day.


Nouria can't get a driver's license without an asylum decision. The connection to public transport is so bad that she looks for a new ride every day. But Nouria is brave: "I've come this far and I won't give up. Thanks to my work at Roche, I feel very integrated here and hope that my family and I can say soon: We have finally arrived.”

Read more about Roche's commitment to refugees here*