In Brazil, volunteers work to improve the lives of Venezuelan immigrants
According to a local office dedicated to social welfare and human rights in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, in the past two years, 7,980 Venezuelans have taken refuge in one of the municipal shelters in Brazil. The last caravan of immigrants crossing from Venezuela to northern Brazil arrived on November 27, 2021. It included 89 people with few bags and many dreams of rebuilding their lives after years of economic decline and social unrest.
“I want to start a new life,” said one of the newly arrived Venezuelans. “We have suffered a lot in our country. The same person shared that in the beginning, when they crossed the border into Brazil, their situation was dire. “We walked to Pacaraima and slept on the streets. It was hard; it looked like we were still in Venezuela,” he said. “It is only here in Manaus that things improve after our arrival in a shelter.”
Refugees fleeing hunger and unrest live in a state of vulnerability and arrive in Brazil with high rates of malnutrition, especially among children. According to some studies, 26 out of 30 children show signs of slowing growth. They also suffer from skin diseases and weakened immune systems.
Another Venezuelan newcomer arrived with her three children, an uncle and a cousin. She shared, “We believe in God and have prayed a lot to be released from the life we had. [in Venezuela]. Now we can start dreaming again,” she said.
The refugees have long relied on the help of area residents, who have already welcomed so many immigrants. And that’s where the volunteer work of Seventh-day Adventists comes in, dedicated to making these families’ new homes more beautiful and comfortable. said Meiryanne Rezzuto, head of the women’s ministry. “We put the love of Jesus into practice.”
One of the shelters has five large buildings. Recently, Adventist volunteers, including those who serve at the regional church headquarters, spent a day painting the place. “Events such as ’10 Days of Prayer’ help us focus on [these kinds] of activities,” said Amazonas-Roraima conference president Mark Wallace Ribeiro. “These initiatives help pastors lead a life of service as Jesus taught us.”
Everyone staying at the shelter received a Bible, a Bible study set, toiletries, cleaning kits and baskets with other basic items. “They need more than just articles,” said activities coordinator Janete Oliveira. “They need to know God to be able to dream again; they need to have a reason to live again and seek a new life.
the original version of this story was published on the South American Division in the Portuguese language news sites.