Segun Prince (left) talks to Sherahmad Razi in the kitchen.
Picture at the staircase in magdas HOTEL. The hotel, within sight of Vienna’s iconic Prater wheel, was an old people’s home before it was converted and belongs to Caritas (the Catholic charity). Segun Prince, 45, from Benin, is one of three Africans working in the kitchen, he is doing well in his new hotel career. “Back in Benin, I was a tailor. It was nice work but I like the kitchen as well. I meet guests from all over the world and ask them, ‘how do you feel? Segun left Benin in 2002 and came to Europe via Libya, making the dangerous crossing over the over Mediterranean Sea. “There was no hope in Africa,” he says. “When they started to make the hotel here, they called us (refugees) to help and I carried beds and wardrobes; it was very exciting. I’ve learnt German and I still go to classes. Maybe one day I will have the chance to be a chef or manager. Promotion, that’s what they (the Austrian managers) are trying to do for us.”
Sherahmad Razi, 32, from Faryab province in Afghanistan, works in the breakfast room. He’s been in Austria for eight years after coming alone from Afghanistan, through Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. Back in Afghanistan he was a welder. “It’s a bit of a difference (hotel work) but I can do anything. The biggest change from when I was unemployed (awaiting an asylum decision) is that I have to get up early. I used to sleep in until 10 or 11 but now I start at six, so I have to get up at twenty-to-five. I like interacting with the customers and it’s good to be earning a living.” In his spare time, Sherahmad plays football and billiards and walks by the River Danube but sometimes, he says, “it is difficult to feel the good life. “In Afghanistan, my mother is sick and my parents live in an area (on the border with the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan) where war is in front of our door. When there is no problem,
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