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NEWS

February 5, 2021

AVSI Brasil opens reception center in Brasilia to host newly hired Venezuelan refugees and their families

The building will serve as temporary housing for people selected to work in Brazil’s capital through the PRM-funded project “Welcomed Through Work”

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In February, AVSI Brasil opened a new space in Brasília to host Venezuelan migrants moving to Brazil’s capital from the refugee centers in Roraima, near the border with Venezuela. The initiative is part of “Welcomed Through Work”, a project implemented by AVSI Brasil and The Migration and Human Rights Institute (IMDH) with funding from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). The project was designed to support and complement Operation Welcome – The Brazilian government-led response to the Venezuelan migration crisis.

The new space officially opened on February 4 at a ceremony with a select group of guests, including Todd Chapman, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil. Due to the pandemic, the ceremony took place outside, in the front garden. All guests had to follow strict safety protocols, including mandatory masks and temperature checks. 

Christened Casa Bom Samaritano (Good Samaritan Home), the center is located in the Lago Sul region on a property provided by Brazil’s National Conference of Bishops (CNBB). The reception center will be managed jointly by AVSI Brasil and IMDH, serving as a temporary residence for families and individuals in a rotating system. Each group of 15 families will live in the center for up to three months.   

Fabrizio Pellicelli, AVSI Brasil president, says the center went through an extensive renovation in 2020. The new building now offers individual accommodations for each family and common areas such as a kitchen, cafeteria, and laundry. The reception center also has a few classrooms, where the Venezuelan refugees will learn Portuguese and build the skills they need to be successful as they enter the job market. As part of the project’s social assistance component, a social worker helps families integrate into their new community and workplace.

"It's an area of 3,500m² where we can accommodate up to 94 people," says Pellicelli. "In each family, at least one person has been selected to work in Brasília and needs a safe space to live for the first three months."

“Welcomed Through Work” partner IMDH, an institute funded by the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo (also known as the Scalabrinians), is also delighted with the new reception center. IMDH Director Sister Rosita Milesi says the Good Samaritan Home is a “dream come true,” one that she describes as “a long-cherished yearning to welcome migrants and refugees in the context of community and economic integration through work.” It is an extraordinary achievement, and extra special that it comes in 2021, when the Congregation celebrates 125 years.

"We hope that families will find the Good Samaritan Home a welcoming and conducive space to nourish their faith and find hope. May this opportunity allow them to sustain their families and find autonomy,” says Sister Milesi. "We count on God's blessing and the refugees' cooperation to make this dream come true."

CNBB vice-president Dom Mário Antônio da Silva says the continuous flow of migrants from Venezuela into Brazil requires a charitable response. 

“We all must do our part to welcome these refugees,” says Dom Mário. “Venezuelan migrants have to survive many challenges, like lack of jobs, hunger, insecurity, and illnesses. However, they believe they can build a new life in Brazil; have a decent place to live, get a job and integrate into our society.”

THE GOOD SAMARITAN HOME

  • 18 rooms/suites equipped with furniture, bed linen, and hygiene kit;
  • Kitchen equipped with industrial stove, freezer, and refrigerators;
  • Cafeteria and tableware;
  • Laundry;
  • Library with books and toys;
  • Classrooms for Portuguese, IT, and Job Preparation classes;
  • Reading Room;
  • Auditorium;
  • 11 individual bathrooms;
  • Accessible entrance for older adults and people with disabilities;
  • Chapel.