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. When the family arrived in Roraima, they lived on a street for 7 months and Mirla shares with us how difficult this time was for them. While still in Venezuela, the money she and her husband were earning was no longer enough for basic expenses of the family. She was also concerned about the health of their 5-year-old son, because the medicines he takes were no longer available. Now, her husband, while searching for a steady job here in Brazil, still quite often goes back to Venezuela to provide the family who stayed there with medicines that it is 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 daughter. She lives in the Nova Canaã shelter with her mother, husband and son 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 very challenging and difficult experience not to have a roof, 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 was decisive to come to Boa Vista to have her daughter here: the access to a hospital, medicine and food.


For Mirla, language is an important obstacle towards integration. Many people in Boa Vista associate Spanish with Venezuelans begging on the streets and become aggressive. She has heard several times: “go back to your country, you’re not from here!". Therefore, sometimes she feels ashamed to speak her language in public spaces. Nevertheless, this kind of hostility does not discourage her, because as she explains, she knows that in Brazil there are also many people that are kind and willing to help.