Representatives of the Training and Development Sector (T&D) and of the Education in Emergency team of the Fraternity – International Humanitarian Federation (FFHI) made a presentation on their activities in the humanitarian response to the Venezuelan crisis in Roraima and in Colombia, during the course of Education, Cooperation and the Global South: Quality and Cooperation for Development in the area of Education. The course, carried out on January 22 via internet, was organized by the Center for International Cooperation, Training and Development (CCIFD), and by the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto, Portugal.

At the invitation of Professor Júlio Santos, some of the teachers of the course, Fátima Cavalcante and Anderson Santiago, presented a summary of the work carried out by the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI), especially its operation in the area of education and training in the context of forced displacement: the lessons, reflections, learnings, and challenges they are faced with in organizing educational responses, both formal and non-formal.

Why act through education in a Humanitarian Response?

Anderson Santiago, coordinator of the Secretariat Headquarters of the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) and the Brazil Focal Point of the INEE Network (Interinstitutional Network for Education in Emergency Situations) was active for 2 years (2018-2019) in the Humanitarian Roraima Mission, and contributed to the implementation of the project of Art-Education in Emergency, called ‘The Common Good.’ Anderson explains the importance of working in education in the context of a humanitarian emergency, because close to 50% of the refugee and immigrant population are children and young people, and they are the most vulnerable within a group of people that are already in a vulnerable position. “They are in their full development phase and having to go through situations of catastrophes and emergencies, having to leave their countries of origin, can create disorders and traumas, which if not tempered, can generate a wound they will carry for life; this is why the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) acts so incisively in education,” he adds.

Geography of Cooperation

Fátima Cavalcante, the focal point of the Education in Emergency Line of Action and coordinator of the Education Sector of the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI), pointed out the importance of working on building networks of cooperation and fellowship that span from local to global, and quickly attend to the needs that appear in the humanitarian response, be it in Roraima, in Colombia, or in other parts of the world.

The main lines of action in the field of education include sports and games, art-education, music and body expressions, the creation of gardens and agroecological spaces, fostering environmental education.

Fátima highlights that from these lines of action, the aim is to create a safe and empathetic environment in which children, adolescents and young people can express and develop concentration, logical reasoning, patience, discipline, respect for rules, and above all, a team spirit, learning to care for others and themselves.

“There are no boundaries between us; we are all brothers and sisters”

Educação em Emergência

This phrase was spoken by a Brazilian indigenous group in the State of Roraima when they received Venezuelan indigenous refugees, and it is quoted by Fátima during the presentation to the participants because it clearly expresses the desire for unity, integration, and transformation that the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) tries to initiate through its educational projects: “we look for the rebuilding of lives through offering effective opportunities,” concludes Fátima.

Mônica Vaz, of Portugal, also presented an account of her activities in the context of education in emergency during the period when she worked with the Jesuit Service for Immigrants and Refugees in the Republic of Chad, a country in the African Continent with an enormous contingent of refugees coming from the neighboring countries, and having a very fragile socioeconomic condition: facing chronic poverty, severe climate, recurring epidemics, deficient infrastructure, and limited access to basic services.

Mônica Vaz spoke about the challenges in implementing the projects, the cultural, religious, and gender barriers and limiting political impositions, and in spite of these, they were successful because of the profound resilience of the recipients, humanitarian agents, and supporters, such as foreign governments, civil society organizations, or individuals who believed in the building of a better future for all of humanity, with no distinctions.