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Integrated Venezuelan family shares their experience with U.S. Ambassador in Brazil through videoconference

The Torrealba Garcia family was planning to have a quiet Thursday, only interrupted by a small party to celebrate Richard’s 40th birthday. But this year the celebration was a bit different. Early in the morning, the Venezuelan family received a call from Todd Chapman, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, who invited them to join him on a video call in Spanish. The encounter was organized by the U.S. Embassy, who has been checking in with the families integrated through “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.

From starving to supporting their families: the journey of two Venezuelan refugees in Brazil

A year ago, Jon and Alberto could not afford to put food on the table and decided to cross the border with Brazil with wives and children. Now, thanks to AVSI, they work for a beverage company in Salvador, Bahia. Jon and Alberto were the first beneficiaries of the project Welcomed Through Work, now funded by U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

On the same boat: an update from Queen of the Apostles School in Manaus

Until a few days ago, it seemed like the coronavirus had not yet affected Manaus. Only days ago, the beaches of Rio de Janeiro were crowded. A million supporters rallied for President Jair Bolsonaro, who shook hands with a myriad of people. On March 13th, the first two cases were reported in Manaus and the State mandated school that all schools be closed immediately.

Here, at the Queen of the Apostles School (Rainha dos Apostolos), we consulted with the students as well as some of their families. Together, we decided that dismissing all 110 students would pose a higher risk of exposure than allowing them to stay. The several days of travel required for many students to return home would create many more opportunities for exposure than staying here on campus where we can ensure that necessary precautions are taken, including social distancing, and thorough cleaning. At this time, we are waiting for the state authorities to share their decision about our proposal.

Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants Deserve More

On October 28-29, in Brussels, the European Union, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), co-hosted the International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis. Giampaolo Silvestri, AVSI Secretary General, shared the experience of AVSI with Venezuelans in Brazil from the floor.

AVSI’s Work with Venezuelan Refugees in Ecuador

To keep Venezuelan refugees and migrants safe in Ecuador, and to promote integration and peaceful coexistence with the local community, AVSI Ecuador is implementing, in partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the project “Activados.”

The Venezuelan Crisis in Brazil: more than 1,500 people arriving daily

AVSI, in partnership with UNHCR, manages three reception centers in Boa Vista and helps more than 1,500 people every day. People who arrive at the centers are exhausted, and feel hopeless. They need everything: food, clothes, healthcare and, above all, they need to feel there’s a possibility for a future in their new home.​

A prison without guards: the APAC Method

Renato Da Silva Junior harbours ambitions of becoming a lawyer. There is just one obstacle: he is a quarter of the way through serving a 20-year jail sentence for murder.

“My dreams are bigger than my mistakes,” says Da Silva, a slightly built man with a broad smile. “I am doing everything to get out of here as soon as I can.”

Da Silva, 28, an inmate at the men’s prison in Itaúna, a town in Minas Gerais, south-east Brazil, is chipping away at his sentence and has already reduced it by two years through work and study at the Association for Protection and Assistance to Convicts (Apac) prison. Here, inmates wear their own clothes, prepare their own food and are even in charge of security. At an Apac jail, there are no guards or weapons, and inmates literally hold the keys.