August 2, 2020

venezuelan migrants complete portuguese class and receive certificate

The eight-week course is offered by AVSI Brasil as part of the PRM-funded project Welcomed Through Work

In September, 160 Venezuelan migrants took another step towards a complete integration in their new country, Brazil. They completed an eight-week Portuguese course offered by AVSI Brasil and received certificates indicating their proficiency in the new language. Implemented in partnership with the National Commercial Learning Center of Roraima (Senac/RR), the classes are part of the project Welcomed Through Work, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

The graduation ceremony was filled with excitement, pride, joy, and unexpected encounters. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols, classes had to be held remotely and with fewer students, so some of the Venezuelan migrants and their teachers met in person for the first time at graduation. Adineia Viriato, one of the teachers, believes that the connection was always there despite social distancing.

"It was not only a Portuguese course. We had the opportunity to exchange stories and testimonials," says Adineia. "During the time spent together, despite adversity, we grew personally and professionally."

Graduate Yusmara Franquis, 39, invited her children and grandchildren to the ceremony. She works as a street vendor in Boa Vista, and now feels more confident when speaking Portuguese.

“I want to look for a formal job in Brazil, and now that I’m more fluent, it should be easier,” hopes Yusmara. “I want to have a stable life, have a home, and send my children to school.”

Eduar Daniel, 26, believes that his new skills will help him fight for better health treatment in Boa Vista. A year ago, after crossing the border from Brazil, he got hit by a car and had to go to the hospital.

"I couldn't understand anything nurses and doctors were trying to say. I was in a lot of pain and the language barrier made everything more difficult," remembers Eduar. "Now, during follow-up visits, I can express myself better and understand the questions they have, even when they talk fast."

A new group of Venezuelan migrants will soon begin learning Portuguese. By September 2021, 600 Venezuelans will have had the opportunity to attend the courses and receive a certificate.

“We are pleased with the results achieved with this first class of students, and we are already thinking about what the second round of classes will look like,” says Thais Braga, AVSI Brasil’s Project Manager of Welcomed Through Work.