Rostos da Migração (Faces of Migration) is a collaborative effort of Missão Paz, the Scalabrini center in São Paulo, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners conceived in response to Brazil’s changing social, economic, and political tumult in 2015. Multiple political groups capitalized on the societal unrest of the leading political party through nationalist rhetoric against the more accommodative immigration policy. The attacks were marked with xenophobia, and played to the worst fears in people: Foreigners were depicted as “different from us” and scapegoated as a cause for some of the nation’s plight. Faces of Migration is the response; we counter the irrationality through the personal words and stories of migrants. The goal of Faces is to demonstrate that immigrants and refugees are – and always have been – integrated and woven into the local communities. They share the same dreams, hopes, fears, successes, failures, and important life experiences like anyone else. Our differences in accents and skin tones are secondary compared to the commonality of our human experiences.
We work to showcase the stories of individuals, to spread awareness, and attempt to dismantle the social construct barriers they face. Many engage with the idea of migration as a societal or political issue, but they don’t have interactions on a personal basis. There is a pressing need for this type of humanization as immigration issues continue to burgeon throughout the world. I witness the situation in Brazil, read the callous words of presidential candidates from the US, and seen the pictures of bodies wash up on the shores of Europe while some countries stonewall these refugees in need. And yet, through all this, Pope Francis’ call to, “welcome the stranger,” remains for each of us.
The message is taking root, and the Faces team is expanding. Besides myself, there are three additional collaborators: a Brazilian journalist, a US Maryknoll Lay Missioner, and a Brazilian French editor who lives in Montreal. Three more people recently contacted to find ways to participate. We documented international stories from immigrants living in Lima, Peru; Cochabamba, Bolivia; New York, USA; and Rome, Italy. We recently published our first video (seen here: youtu.be/NHPRj3Zb2-8) and hope to continue to produce more in the future.
Through greater collaboration with SIMN, we are expanding the reach of our materials. Public advocacy can only be as effective as the number of people internalizing the message. Follow the publications on rostos.org and Facebook.com/RostosDM, share the stories on website and social media, email me if you would like copies of the images to use in print material, and contact me at email@example.com if you would like to find ways to expand this type of work to make it a truly global project. Thank you.