In recent years, Venezuela has undergone the largest emigration in its history. Many felt forced to leave their country and cross the border into Brazil due to economic challenges.
Across northern Brazil, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is helping newcomers from Venezuela and other countries to resettle and start a new life in their adoptive country. Currently, about 60,000 people are being supported by the ADRA initiative, leaders reported.
In Brazil’s northeast, ADRA Bahia helped 80 families, providing them with job opportunities to rebuild their lives in the state capital of Salvador. In addition to providing for their housing, the Adventist humanitarian agency has connected around 300 people with various companies so refugees can find employment and provide for their families.
The ADRA project, called SWAN (Settlement, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Refugees and Migrants), is a joint effort between the agency and USAID, leaders explained.
Lives Transformed and Renewed
Venezuelan couple Andrés Solorzano and Adriana Márquez said hope was reignited in Bahia after they had gone through other regions and cities and experienced financial challenges. They participated in a selection process and were eventually hired to work for ADRA on behalf of the homeless in Salvador.
“We were in Roraima and didn’t have enough money for transportation, food, shelter,” Solorzano explained. “I didn’t know whom to call, and we didn’t speak the language. Then we heard ADRA was interviewing Venezuelan refugees, offering to send them to other states and help them to resettle.”
In Salvador, the couple began to work and learn the local language. “The opportunity of being part of ADRA and work in a shelter helping homeless people helped me learn to speak more Portuguese and develop more skills,” Solorzano said.
Solorzano works as a counselor and his wife as a cook. The couple said they are very grateful for how ADRA welcomed them. “Every time I remember how good they were to me — how kind, caring, and respectful — I appreciate the opportunity again to start over.”
In addition to achieving financial stability, the couple had a lovely surprise as they welcomed a baby, the first Brazilian in the family. “Thanks be to God and ADRA,” they said.
ADRA Bahia and Refugees
ADRA Bahia has been working with refugees since 2019. “The agency role in welcoming refugees in Salvador was critical,” ADRA South America director Paulo Lopes said.
Leonardo Mendes, ADRA Bahía regional director, agreed. “Projects like this are challenging but very much needed to alleviate the suffering of families,” he said.
Mendes said he was happy that ADRA was willing to work with other non-governmental organizations to care for the newly arrived refugees. “We were thrilled to introduce them to the region and help them to become part of the labor market,” Mendes said. “This was only possible thanks to a large network of supporters,” he added. “We praise God for this privilege, for this opportunity to reach out to these people.”