Photo: Juliana Orihuela
"When people realize you are Venezuelan, they immediately change their behavior." - Abigail
by Ana Clara Bernardes
Abigail (28) comes from Puerto La Cruz, in the state of Anzoátegui (Venezuela). She used to work as a receptionist and a waiter in hotels in her hometown. The decision to come to Brazil was made by the family when their comfortable life was replaced by constant food and medicine shortages. Abigail has been in Brazil for two months and came with her children, parents-in-law and a brother-in-law. They arrived by a bus to the Brazilian border city Pacaraima, where they had to wait for the permission to enter the country. During the 4 days of waiting for the process to be concluded they passed cold, hunger and other needs.
When they finally arrived in Boa Vista, the family stayed in a house rented by Abigail's husband, who came to Brazil looking for a job seven months earlier. The money the family had managed to save eventually ran out and for a month they had to live on a street, near the Boa Vista’s bus station. During this period and on many occasions they were a target of xenophobia from the locals. Abigail tells us sadly that one night some police officers approached her children and threw pepper spray at them.
Photo: Fabricio Carrijo
Abigail, 28, comes from Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. She used to work as a receptionist and housekeeper at hotels in her city. The decision to come to Brazil was made when, she stresses, her comfortable life was replaced by a reality of scarcity of food and medicine. Abigail has been in Brazil since August 2018. She was initially living in a house with her husband and children but they were evicted since they ran out of money and no longer could afford the rent. Before receiving a vacancy in the refugee shelter Rondon 1 in Boa Vista, where she told us her story, Abigail and her family lived on the streets for a month, a period they were often a target of xenophobia. To her, although conditions shelter is much better than living on a street, nothing will erase the memories of the comfortable life she used to have with her family in Venezuela. Their house was big and spacious, the garden was always full of colourful flowers and many green plants. Abigail becomes nostalgic when talking about the moments of leisure the family used to spend together. She greatly misses her parents who stayed in her country as well as Venezuelan food. She also misses the life when she didn’t have the concerns that are part of her reality now, as a Venezuelan refugee in Brazil.
Abigail is a self-caring woman and remembers, with nostalgia, the beauty habits she cultivated during her life in Venezuela. She liked to have her hair and make-up done, she used to use perfumes, things of her old reality that she can no longer maintain in the shelter. Life is much harder now and self-care habits are neither a priority nor they are possible in the shelter’s reality.
She would like her family to be transferred to Santa Catarina as she has heard that the weather is more pleasant there and the people are more friendly with migrants. Her greatest wish is to get a job that would allow her to raise enough money to be able to return to Venezuela, as soon as the crisis is over, to take care of her ageing parents.