Youth Bible study group impressed to go out and assist newcomers.
“We did not want to leave,” said Libe, an indigenous Venezuelan refugee, in referring to her home country. Libe found a new home in Belém, the capital of Pará in northern Brazil. She and large numbers of other Venezuelan residents are fleeing their cities in search of a new life in Brazil. They are among millions who, in the past year, have lost their job, were starving, and decided to migrate to other South American countries.
Due to political unrest in Libe’s home country, many essential items have disappeared from market shelves, according to media reports. Living conditions are worsening as many have lost their jobs and can’t afford to provide for their families.
- Led by Seventh-day Adventist youth volunteers in Belém, Pará, Brazil, a moment of prayer encouraged refugees from Venezuela to have faith in the future. [Photo: Anne Seixas]
- Group picture of Adventist youth volunteers and some of the Venezuelan refugees in Belém, Pará, Brazil, as the volunteers distributed much-needed items on February 2, 2019. [Photo: Anne Seixas]
- A group of Venezuelan refugee children check their new toys, distributed through an initiative of a Seventh-day Adventist youth Bible study group in Belém, Pará, Brazil, on February 2, 2019. [Photo: Anne Seixas]
Libe shared that she has been living in Belém for 16 months. She stayed in hotels and shelters and now shares a residence with 100 other people. Housing is funded by the local city government, which also provides food on a weekly basis. Despite official support, she said, they are missing items such toiletries, cleaning supplies, mattresses, and fans to endure the high Amazon temperatures.
The refugees also lack proper health care and someone who can speak their language, she said. According to media reports, most of the refugees are from indigenous tribes and speak a dialect. Few of them understand Spanish or Portuguese. Often, hand signs are used to try to understand what they want to say or communicate what they need to hear. Language has been a barrier that prevents refugees from getting a job, even on an informal basis. Many wander through the city, begging at traffic lights.