Photo: Katarzyna Górka
““It is as if we were forced to leave, it wasn’t our desire to come here. We simply didn’t have other choice. The situation was so critical that we couldn’t live there anymore” - Ruth
by Katarzyna Górka
Ruth is 31. She is a hardworking businesswoman, neither too optimistic, nor too pessimistic, a normal person, as she says. Ruth arrived in Boa Vista from Venezuela in February 2018 with her son Tomás (2) and husband and live at the refugee shelter Rondon 1. She used to be a student of business administration, but when she got pregnant with Tomás she left the university and opened a small business. Her husband was a policeman. In her opinion, they had a good life in Venezuela, two houses, a car, a motorcycle… Until the crisis came and changed everything. The salary was not enough anymore to buy anything. They had to sell the motorcycle, one house, as well as the furniture and other equipment from the other house, in which they were living, in order to survive and pay their way to Brazil. A country, which was not even their first choice.
Ruth is pregnant with her second son. Or a daughter. She does not know. “We don’t do ultrasound exams for Venezuelans” she was told rudely in a hospital in Boa Vista during a check-up consultation. At first, the family was planning to move to Trinidad and Tobago. But with her second pregnancy, and a considerably bad financial situation they decided to move to Brazil. Because it was closer, and the travel was cheaper. Their idea was to find a job here in Boa Vista to reconstruct their life and save up some money so they could live with dignity when back in Venezuela.
In the beginning, her husband was able to find some odd jobs, but now it is much harder to find anything in the city. Even being pregnant Ruth was not spared from xenophobic comments and insults such as “bitch” or “whore” on the streets of Boa Vista simply for being Venezuelan. In spite of that, she is still proud of her nationality.
Regardless of all the negative experiences, Ruth considers Brazilians as humanitarian people with good hearts. She admires the Brazilian education system, “here children have a better future,” she says. Ruth hopes to be able to move to another Brazilian city with fewer Venezuelans and less discrimination. But she wouldn’t like it to be too far from Boa Vista. She still hopes to be able to return to Venezuela and to recover for her family the quality of life they used to have.