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
Currently, the family lives in the Rondon 1 shelter and although the conditions are much better than living on a street, nothing will erase the memories of their comfortable life they have had in Venezuela. Their house was big and spacious, the garden was always full of colorful 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 Venezuela and the Venezuelan food. She also misses the life when she didn’t have the concerns that are part of her reality now, as a Venezuelan immigrant in Brazil.
Abigail is a self-caring woman and remembers, with nostalgy, 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. The 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 immigrants. 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 aging parents.