As a tribute of the Fraternity–International Humanitarian Federation (FIFH) to all the refugees in the world, we are launching the documentary Nona Anonamo – We are all Artisans, in the opening of the week that celebrates the World Refugee Day,  this June 20.

The documentary, narrated by sister María Auxiliadora, a volunteer missionary of the Fraternity (FIHF) and nun of the Grace Mercy Order, had the objective of sharing her experience of humanitarian service with the Warao artisan women.

The video brings a profound reflection about the Indigenous ethnicity known as Warao, a name that may be translated as “People of the Water,” a reference to their original habitat at the banks of the Orinoco River Delta, in Venezuela. This ethnicity, which for some decades has been facing difficulties in Venezuela and has begun to live in urban areas, where it copes with social inadequacy and marginality, was the first affected by the social and economic crisis that the country is experiencing. This situation led the Warao to cross the border with Brazil, seeking better living conditions.

With a growing migratory flux that expands more and more in the Northern and Northeastern regions of Brazil, the international forced displacement of the Indigenous peoples is a situation that demands special attention from the agencies that respond in humanitarian crises, as the factor of cultural difference adds to the refugee condition. There are thousands of Waraos, besides other ethnic groups coming from Venezuela, now living in Brazil.

In the Brazilian state of Roraima, where the largest number of this population is concentrated, the Fraternity (FIHF) manages two Indigenous shelters, one in Boa Vista and another one in Pacaraima, a city bordering with Venezuela, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The work with the sheltering of Indigenous peoples is something new in the context of humanitarian response, which led the Fraternity (FIHF) to seek elements that could contribute in the building of an environment that could fit their culture and respect their customs and knowledge.

The incentive to work as an artisan along with the relationship of the Waraos with the Buriti Tree, which they call in their narratives “the Tree of Life”, and with which they have a profound material and spiritual bond, has been one of the main avenues for rescue of human dignity and valuing of that Indigenous culture. According to the missionary, “When these people are there, inside a shelter, in an urban center, outside their country, and they make handicrafts, it is like a ritual of connecting with their own origins.”

This documentary brings an account of years of experience of contact between the missionary and the Indigenous people in the shelter, a reflection based on love, observation and science; it also brings striking testimonies from the artisans; it is woven with images that are sometimes harsh, sometimes poetical of the routines in the shelters; and has a soundtrack that leads us to an encounter with the Indigenous purity. Nona Anonamo, as a work, is on a par with what it intends to do: to pay a tribute to all refugees in the world.

Note 1: At the 0:41 minute mark, it was indicated that the work of the Missionary of the Fraternity (FIHF) with the artisan women of the Indigenous shelters took place between 2018 and 2019, but the correct time is between 2017 and 2019.

Note 2: At the 10:11 minute mark, it is said that the canoe used for the transport of the Waraos is made of Buriti, but this information is not correct, as the canoes are traditionally made of cachicamo (Calophyllum Brasiliense), which is known in Brasil as Jacareúba.

Note 3: At the 4:04 minute mark, a remark about the practice of begging by the Waraos is made by the missionary. It is worth noting that it is a reflection, and not a factual conclusion about the subject, as the topic has a greater vastness, knowing that the practice of begging needs special attention not to become normal.