“A large family with many stories to share.” That’s how Gerardo Anatrella, 52, describes his family. He and his wife Yolesia, 47, have three children: Francesca, 28, Mássimo, 25 and Gerardo Bruno, 20. Francesca’s husband, José Gregório, 29, and their own two little kids Fabiana, 7, and Zamira, an infant, complete the family of eight.
The Anatrellas have been living in Roraima for the past ten months. They decided to leave Venezuela after some financial difficulties in their hometown of Cumaná, in the Venezuelan state of Sucre. Life in Brazil was hard at the beginning. After making a difficult journey to Boa Vista, the family struggled to be admitted to one of the UNHCR reception centers there, and they were left to spend several days living on the streets. After some time, they were all accepted into the São Vicente I reception center, managed by AVSI Brasil in partnership with the Brazilian Government’s program, “Operation Welcome.”
In August, Gerardo, his two sons, and son-in-law were hired by a food processing company located in Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil. The selection was facilitated by the Jesuit Service for Migrants and Refugees (SJMR) in partnership with AVSI Brasil, which implements “Welcomed Through Work.” Funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the project improves access to formal work for Venezuelan refugees through voluntary relocation (“interiorization”) to other Brazilian cities. As part of the project’s social assistance component, a social worker helps beneficiaries integrate into their new community and workplace. AVSI Brasil also rents apartments for beneficiaries for the first three months after relocation so they can have security and save money as they begin their new lives. Gerardo’s family has gone through all necessary medical exams and is taking care of the documentation to begin a new life.
Before they move, Gerardo’s family will have a special meeting in Boa Vista. On Friday, September 18, the family met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was visiting Roraima as part of a diplomatic mission to Brazil. The Anatrella family had the chance to tell Secretary Pompeo about their story, their motivations, and their hope for a better future thanks to this great partnership. After a few minutes listening to their testimonial, Pompeo wished the family “Good luck” in their new country.