When they leave their country, they migrate south into Brazil’s northernmost cities and towns. From there, they travel south to Brazil’s Northeast region, where Recife is. Some continue even further south. Over 250,000 Venezuelans are now living as refugees in Brazil.
We got to know some of them when they arrived here. They were living in downtown Recife in precarious conditions.
It was heartbreaking to see whole families, including older adults, children, babies, and pregnant women, all piled up in two small rooms with no windows. That’s when God moved our hearts to do something for these people.
The small congregation in Vila dos Palmares helped immensely by providing two small houses in the church building’s backyard. It wasn’t easy to have that many living there, but that was the door of opportunity that opened.
Since then, many church members and several of our friends are helping them. We are thankful for that. Now there are eleven families living in six rented houses. We got a stove and a refrigerator for each home, and they sleep in hammocks and mattresses on the floor. They are accustomed to hammocks in their native culture (“Warao”)
When I visit their homes here, I observe that they keep their belongings to a bare minimum, only the necessary. They keep their clothes in plastic bags hanging on the walls.
They have been living this way since they left Venezuela a few years ago. They don’t want extra stuff because their desire is not to stay in Brazil. They long to go back to their own country. As soon as the situation in Venezuela improves, they plan to return.
They have this goal firmly in their minds. They feel like they don’t belong here. They are going home. To make things easier when that day arrives, they don’t accumulate lots of stuff.
That makes me think that I also shouldn’t get attached to things here. One day, I will be leaving this place. I am going home. I can enjoy my blessings here, no matter what they are, but I must be careful. I am too am but a pilgrim!
Below you can watch a video that we made during a Children’s Day visit where we brought donations and get to see some of their faces.