“My happiness depends on the happiness of those who can follow the same path as mine. It wouldn’t be worth having documentation and seeing that my fellow African doesn’t have it”, says Abdoul Razack, 31, from Benin, who has lived in Brazil for almost ten years.
Abdoul left Benin, Africa, in 2014, selected under the PEC-G graduation agreement, from the Ministry of Education and Foreign Affairs. Today, he has a master’s degree, is employed and has authorized residence, but sees himself as a bridge for all migrants and refugees in the process of integration, inclusion and insertion into Brazilian society.
At the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), he studied economics and graduated in 2019, the year in which he was also approved in the postgraduate program of the same department, where he obtained the title of demographer.
“This socialization allowed me, outside the university as well, to act as a promoter of my culture and public policies for the migrant and refugee population. I try to contribute with my brief knowledge about the African context and my academic knowledge itself, I think we cannot dissociate the two”, he commented on his engagement, during his graduation, in extension, research and scientific initiation projects, and acting as a promoter of African culture in Brazil.
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I work in Belo Horizonte
In 2022, following a job vacancy referral made by the Jesuit Migrant and Refugee Service (SJMR), Abdoul began working at a law firm in the capital of Minas Gerais.
SJMR is present in seven Brazilian states and more than 50 countries and supports people in situations of refuge, migration and forced displacement. Felipe Silva, a social analyst at the SJMR office in Belo Horizonte, was responsible for opening Abdoul’s residence permit process, which months later was granted, after an appeal, with the General Coordination of Labor Immigration (CGIL), of the Department of Migrations, body of the National Secretariat of Justice (Senajus).
“The request was filed last year and, in January 2023, requirements were opened in the process to prove professional qualifications, in order to attest to their capacity for the position for which they were hired. Abdoul, however, with a master’s degree in demography from UFMG, was qualified to take on the role of administrative assistant and could even be considered overqualified (very qualified) for the post, which in Brazil is mid-level,” he explained.
This entire journey was never just about Abdoul, as he himself assesses. “The moment I understood the phases of integration progress, via cultural value and via documentation, I recognized that I can contribute to my community”, he highlights. Now, after the process has passed, he wants to share the information with his fellow countrymen and contribute to Brazilian society.
What is a residence permit?
A residence permit is granted to immigrants who intend to work, reside or settle temporarily or permanently in Brazil, as long as the person complies with the requirements set out in the Migration Law.
After obtaining a residence permit, the immigrant is registered, through civil identification with the collection of biographical and biometric data, to obtain the National Migration Registry (RNM) number and the National Migration Registration Card (CRNM).
Maintained by the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs, the Undergraduate Student-Agreement Program (PEC-G) is one of the oldest Brazilian student mobility programs in the country, created in 1965. The program offers places to young people from developing countries with which Brazil maintains an educational, cultural or scientific-technological agreement.
Cooperation offers foreigners the opportunity to graduate, free of charge, at Brazilian higher education institutions. The candidate must be at least 18 years old, have completed secondary education and demonstrate proficiency in the Portuguese language.
Source: BdF Minas Gerais
Editing: Larissa Costa