July 5, 2020

Former Venezuelan soccer player tackled the challenges and began a new life in Brazil

Miguel Arcangel is one of the migrants integrated in the southern state of Santa Catarina thanks to the project “Welcomed Through Work.”

Miguel Arcangel’s love for sports began early, more precisely at the age of four, when he stepped for the first time onto a field in Venezuela to practice what was already his favorite sport: soccer. Since then, he has dedicated more than 30 years to soccer. Miguel reached the pinnacle of his career playing for Monagas Sport Club, a soccer team in Venezuela’s highest division, the Primera División Venezolana. Ricardo, his younger brother, recalls that Miguel used to travel a lot while playing for them.

“He played a lot of championships, gave interviews, and was a very active professional,” he said.

When Venezuela was hit by socioeconomic and political crisis, Miguel’s routine changed completely. He faced many challenges and had to pick up additional jobs and activities while continuing to play soccer to make ends meet. Miguel worked as a security guard for some time and then worked for food processing companies. As things were only getting worse, Miguel had to leave his dream of playing soccer behind and he fled to Brazil in search of a better life.

Today, at the age of 50, Miguel says he has never given up hope for better days. Married with a 27-year-old son, Miguel left his family in Venezuela and came to Brazil. He lived for almost a year in Boa Vista, where his brother was also living with his wife and mother.

In February, AVSI helped the whole family move to Seara, a city in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina where Miguel and Ricardo found jobs thanks to “Welcomed Through Work,” a project funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), and implemented by AVSI Brasil in partnership with the Jesuit Service for Migrants and Refugees. 

After the first three months of orientation and evaluation in Seara, the two brothers were hired full-time by a food processing company and were able to rent a house. Miguel also sends money every month to his wife, who is still in Venezuela. The couple’s son migrated to Ecuador. Now, the family is waiting for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and the opening of the borders to meet again.

"I am very grateful for what I have achieved here in Brazil. My expectation now is to continue working to offer a better life to my family,"

The Venezuelan migrant has not lost his love for soccer and recently received a special offer from the company where he works. Once social distancing rules are lifted, he will join their soccer team. Miguel is ready to be back on the field and score some goals again.