He owned his own business as a bus driver, a job that in the past had earned him and his family a decent standard of living. Now they, like most people in Venezuela, were struggling to get by, unable to afford even the most basic goods due to the country’s tanking economy and skyrocketing inflation.
In March of 2019, Jon sold parts from his bus to pay his way out of Venezuela. He took 3 different bus rides, making his way across the country, and crossed the border into Pacaraima, Brazil. “I knew if I could get to Brazil there would be opportunity here,” he says, but the outcome was far from certain.
Jon spent almost 2 months in a reception center run by AVSI Brasil in Boa Vista. As part of the pilot project “Welcomed through work,” Jon interviewed for a job at Indústria São Miguel, a beverage company with a large operation in Salvador, Brazil. ISM saw potential for a good fit in Jon, and they offered him a job at their distribution center.
Once he arrived in Salvador, AVSI helped Jon find housing and connected him with social services in his community. Jon contacted his brother, Francisco, and got him a job at São Miguel too.
At first, the language barrier was hard. “You hear your coworkers laughing, and you laugh along, but you don’t know if they are laughing at you,” Jon says. But now he feels comfortable with Portuguese, and he likes his coworkers. “It’s a good place to work. They treat us well here.”
Jon and Francisco send money back to their families in Venezuela, and they hope to bring their family members to join them in Brazil soon. It’s hard for them to be away from the people they love.