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Helping Venezuelan girls, boys and adolescents start of a new life in Peru

© Peru, 2020. © UNICEF / Mandros D.

Two years ago, Genesis had to leave her home in Venezuela with her family to come to Peru. When she arrived in Lima, she says she kept thinking about her name, “It means the beginning of everything, a new awakening, like a new dawn.”

The move has definitely been a new beginning for her—and full of surprises. "I never thought I could make so many friends. I was scared at first," she explains. But she says those fears quickly faded because of the many new Peruvian and Venezuelan friends who helped her feel at home.

Before the pandemic, Peruvian and Venezuelan adolescents like Genesis would meet on the second floor of the Lord of Miracles chapel in Lima’s San Martin de Porres district. They gathered there to participate in the "Todos somos chéveres, súmate a la integración" (“We’re all cool, join us in integration”) program. It is run by UNICEF in partnership with the NGO Warmi Wasi as part of the Canada-funded Integrating Venezuelan Girls, Boys and Adolescents in Peru project.

“I love coming here," says Genesis. “Peruvians and Venezuelans support each other and share our stuff with each other. There's none of that ‘you're not from here’ thing. We’re all very united and I like that. It makes me feel that I belong here.”

Genesis says that after she finishes helping her mother at home, she has some free time. “That sometimes makes me think I'm locked up and sad memories come back to me." When this happens, she picks up her bag and walks to the chapel. Genesis and her friends hang out and help each other without thinking about where they were born.

“Here, we have a group where unity, respect, friendship and love allow us all to be ok," she explains.

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