World Refugee Day: Creating Opportunities Through Culture and Language at Abraço Cultural

 

“Their reception is an essential aspect of the integration process for refugees and migrants around the world. Empathy for the situation in which refugees live is paramount for its effectiveness.”

According to the UN, there are currently more than 68 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world – people who have been forced to leave their homes due to political and religious conflict, war, hunger or persecution. On World Refugee day, Abraço Cultural shows us how efforts to strengthen culture, language and income generation are helping transform the lives of refugees in Brazil. Mateus Lima is a Project Assistant and spoke with BrazilFoundation.

With a presence in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Abraço Cultural provides entrepreneurial mechanisms for city residents to engage with and empower refugees. The organization offers affordable language and culture courses where refugees are the instructors. The courses are an opportunity to share cultures while promoting income generation and cultural appreciation.

BrazilFoundationHow can strengthening culture and language help refugees overcome the challenges faced when they arrive in Brazil?

Abraço Cultural – Our proposal to train refugees as language instructors while promoting their linguistic capabilities and culture is a real and effective option that can help overcome the challenge of integrating them socially and economically into society. We believe that in this way we can transform their reality, by creating income generation opportunities and turning the classroom into a place for cultural exchange and deconstruction, while breaking down social barriers and prejudices.

BrazilFoundationWhat kind of work does Abraço Cultural do and how does it contribute to the integration and social inclusion of refugees in Brazil?

Abraço Cultural – “In 2016, one year after its founding, Abraço Cultural spread to Rio de Janeiro. As of today, the project has trained 90 refugees to be instructors at Abraço Cultural, at other schools, or as independent instructors. Out of all the instructors trained, 40 worked directly in our course. More than 2000 students have taken this project’s courses, generating more than one million reais in income for refugees.”

BrazilFoundationHow can society help restructure the lives of people who are forced to leave their place of residence and homes?

Abraço Cultural – “Their reception is an essential aspect of the integration process for refugees and migrants around the world. Empathy for the situation in which refugees live is paramount for its effectiveness.”

Geneviève Cherubin is a French instructor at Abraço Cultural. Her story is one of empathy and altruism. She’s from Haiti, where she worked as a volunteer in communities affected by the 2010 earthquake. She eventually came through Ecuador to reach Brazil, which she considers her second home. Being in Brazil alone and having only her to support herself, her situation changed when she met people who were able to help her reach her dreams and gain independence. Part of her heart remains in Haiti, her homeland. Her dream is to transform the lives of others, especially those in Haiti, where for many, their only hope is to leave their country. And by talking with her students and Brazilian friends about a better future, she brings all of the positivity needed to do this.

Learn about other initiatives that are helping refugees and their families restart lives in Brazil:

Centro de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania do Imigrante
Projeto Linyon
Migraflix
Moinho Cultural