Photo: Lisiane Aguiar
“We chose Brazil because it is the closest country, but the language is a challenge that still keeps us apart from Brazilians.”- Mirla Isabel
by Lisiane Aguiar
Mirla Isabel, 26, has been in Brazil for almost a year. In Venezuela, the money she and her husband were earning was no longer enough for basic expenses of the family and she was concerned for the health of her 5-year-old son, since the medicines he takes were no longer available to buy. When she arrived in Boa Vista with her family, they initially lived on the streets for seven months, which she describres as a very harsh period. Now, she lives in the shelter Nova Canaã with her mother, husband and son. Her husband is searching for a steady job here in Brazil but quite often goes back to Venezuela to provide the family who stayed there with medicines that are impossible to get there.
Photo: Juliana Orihuela
Back in Venezuela, Mirla worked as a manicurist and lived with her parents and siblings in the same house. She was happy because she had all her family around. She had her first child (son) at the age of 21 and now she’s nine months pregnant with a baby girl and struggles with the idea of having a child in these conditions. But every day she tries to transform the little tent made of canvas they live in into a home. Despite all her attempts, it is still a very challenging and difficult experience not to have their own house to live in, especially with a 5-year-old son and being pregnant.
For the moment, Mirla does not intend to return to Venezuela, because food and medicine scarcity continues. What for many people is something taken for granted, for her it was a decisive aspect to come to Boa Vista to have her daughter: the possibility to have access to a hospital, medicine and food.
For Mirla, language is an important obstacle to integration. In her perspective, many people in Boa Vista associate the Spanish language with Venezuelans begging on the streets and are bothered when hearing the language. She has heard several times people telling her: “go back to your country, you’re not from here!". Therefore, sometimes she feels ashamed to speak her language in public spaces. Therefore, she sometimes feels ashamed to speak Spanish in public places. However, this kind of hostility does not discourage her, since, she explains, she knows that in Brazil there are also many people who are kind and willing to help.