On Wednesday 18th, the Light-Community of Figueira, in Carmo da Cachoeira, MG, received a visit from José Egas, the  representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Brazil.

Representante do ACNUR visita a Comunidade Luz-Figueira

The work that Fraternidade-International Humanitarian Federation (FIHF) has been doing in Brazil and in Colombia with the Venezuelan refugees brought about partnerships such as that of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In Brazil, today’s work for both organizations is the Welcome Operation, coordinated by the Brazilian Army. It was the first visit of Egas to the FIHF headquarters, and his perception was one of a new discovery, however synergistic, of the experience UNHCR members have gained alongside FIHF on the humanitarian front with refugees

Representante do ACNUR visita a Comunidade Luz-Figueira

“I didn’t expect to see what I saw. I didn’t expect to experience this sense of community in which you live here. The whole ongoing process, from sowing to harvesting, the production of food, for example, all done with a respect for nature, I loved it. I didn’t expect to see this cold storage seed bank, for example. Also, it is easy to feel the welcome that the community offers in a natural way to people that arrive here, always permeated by the philosophy of Fraternidade.”

For Egas, the FIHF has much to share, especially in humanitarian responses, but also in the process of integration of people in Brazil, as well as in other regions.

About the shelters

Egas also referred to the work that FIHF is doing for Venezuelan refugees today in Brazil on two humanitarian fronts – Roraima and Manaus. “Fraternidade, for me, knowing how you work on these fronts in the north of the country, has the ability to foster a communal and social cohesion, as well as supporting the refugee so that they can rediscover their psycho-emotional stability, while, at the same time, being an active participant in any of the processes in motion.” He was referring to the process of social integration or living in a shelter, which is always a challenge for an individual in a refuge situation.

“Professional” volunteers

Representante do ACNUR visita a Comunidade Luz-FigueiraThe executive was referring precisely to the actions of the FIHF being complex and challenging in their role of welcoming indigenous refugees of Warao ethnicity and all the vulnerability this particular group represents. “From what I saw here in Figueira, FIHF has a lot to contribute in the reconstruction of these peoples’ new reality.” Egas expressed the perception that FIHF has extensive technical experience from more than 30 years of mission work around the world, to make advancements in this humanitarian welcoming process. He concludes: “One of the things you have that nobody else has is this characteristic that the largest part if not most of your team is volunteers. That must represent a high logistical and administrative complexity, because not everybody can have that commitment full time or for long periods or years. We see that, regardless of the turnover of people arriving and leaving, the professional work continues and high in performance, which demonstrates that this organizational capacity is also internal, which is very admirable,” he concludes.