Miguel Arcangel’s love for sports began early, more precisely at the age of four, when he stepped for the first time on a field in Venezuela to practice his favorite sport: soccer. Since then, he had dedicated more than 30 years to soccer. Miguel achieved the top of his career playing for Monagas Sport Club, a soccer team playing at the top level, the Primera División Venezolana. Ricardo, his younger brother, recalls that Miguel used to travel a lot while playing for them.
Born in Honduras, 17-year-old Ricardo left for the United States alone in search of the American Dream. After riding across Mexico on a train known as “The Beast” and escaping from the immigration police while trying to cross the border to the United States, Ricardo finally found the FM4 Paso Libre shelter, in the state of Jalisco. There, he was able to apply for a permit to be recognized as a refugee in Mexico.
Every day, Paula Vásquez tries to create for herself and her family a “new normal” during COVID-19. She wakes up at 5:30 AM, prepares breakfast, eats alone, and leaves two meals for her sons, sixteen-year-old Jesús and ten-year-old José Luis. Then, she walks through the narrow, dusty streets of the Monte Albán Colony, one of the most vulnerable neighborhoods of Oaxaca, Mexico, to get to work. It takes her half an hour on foot to get to Crecemos, the educational center where she works as a cook. There, she washes her hands, puts on a mask, and starts her new routine. In the next eight hours, she will prepare 300 meals to be distributed to the 150 families served by Crecemos.
Equipped with a mask, protective clothing, and a great desire to help, Ernesto Luque hugs his loved ones early in the morning and heads to work. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuador, Ernesto has been delivering food rations and basic kits of protection and personal hygiene to Venezuelan refugee families. Streets are quiet and almost empty, but anxiety and uncertainty fill the air and leave a strong impression on anyone passing through the towns.
When Frederit, Raul and Anamar fled Venezuela and migrated to Brazil, they had one common goal: to seek better job opportunities to ensure their families could have a better future. Now, with a new job and a place to live, they can finally make plans for the future.
After leaving Venezuela and living for a year in Boa Vista, Brazil, Venezuelan refugee Ricardo José Blanco Rojas, 49 years old, is beginning a new chapter of his life in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, where he and his family have lived since February.
The Rojas family moved to the city of Seara 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. A local food processing company hired Ricardo and his brother while AVSI Brasil rented an apartment for them for three months. The family also received social assistance for their first three months in the new city. As part of the project’s social assistance component, a social worker helps families integrate into their new community and workplace.
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.
On March 20, Mexico closed schools nationwide to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A few days earlier, on March 17, Crecemos had already sent home the children who come regurarly to the educational center located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Oaxaca, Mexico. In their bags, Crecemos staff helped them pack homework, instructions on how to wash hands and keep social distance and their musical instrument.
Anny, a Venezuelan refugee, got moved to Santa Catarina, Brazil thanks to AVSI’s “Welcomed Through Work” initiative, funded by the Bureau of Population, Migration and Refugees. Though she’s new to the area, she was invited to participate in two campaigns designed to raise awareness about COVID-19 among refugees in Brazil.
On March 18th, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez imposed a mandatory nationwide quarantine in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, the economy has been hit hard and the people, many of whom struggle withpoverty and hunger, are concerned about how long the quarantine can last before they start to suffer from lost income, job losses and rising debt levels. In Argentina, 49.3% of the economically active population work in the informal sector, making a quarantine especially challenging to livelihoods.