It is crucial to create opportunities for dialogue between Brazilian students and refugees, in order to break down prejudices and stimulate empathy. The Center for Attention to Refugees (CAR), a social project of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, launched the “CAR in Schools” program, which aims to bring students and refugees together through dialogue meetings that stimulate the sharing of culture and information, promote welcoming and smooth the way for the reinforcement of bonds.
Samara Franco, CAR social worker and specialist in the subject of refugees and immigrants, visited the Immaculate Conception College in Botafogo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), on August 31, to speak to fifth-grade students about the situation of refugees in Brazil. Under the attentive gaze of the adolescents – aged 11 and 12 – she spoke to them about the work being done at the Center for the Care of Refugees and answered many questions from the students.
The next day, the students went to the Care Center and listened to the testimonial of Mili Yanes, a Venezuelan who has been living in Brazil for almost a decade. At the end of the meeting, filled with empathy and impacted by Mili’s moving and inspiring testimony, they gifted the refugee families with drawings inspired by the conversations they had.
“I believe that this sharing of the Refugee Care Center with schools is key to spread essential values for life in society. Talking about empathy, solidarity and resilience allows us to reflect on the present and wish for better days in the near future. The topic of refugees must be addressed in classrooms, as it is an ongoing issue and data shows the increase in the number of forcibly displaced people in the world. We need to look sensitively and think about how we can support these people seeking protection in another country,” said Samara.
Until December 2021, 60,011 people were recognized as refugees in Brazil. Since its opening in March 2019, the Refugee Care Center has served more than 1,100 families, more than 4,300 people of 27 different nationalities in total.