“If you want to know what a country’s future looks like, look at the children. They’ll give you a good idea,” was one of the first things Miriam Blos said to me when we met at the Casa da Música in 2019. A year later, in the same place, the phrase couldn’t make more sense.
If before I talked about the conversations I had about Venezuela’s glorious past and struggling present, in this text I want to talk about the country’s future. And how much I saw the construction of a better future through the Canarinhos refugiados em Pacaraima project – which began 23 years ago as Canarinhos da Amazônia.
I’ve already talked about Miriam here and said how the choir, which is the heart of the project, serves as a starting point of a much bigger purpose that is the rekindle of dreams. And this can be seen in the eyes of the Canarinhos who arrive at the Casa da Música to sing. It can be felt, for example, when they sing the Brazilian anthem while practising for the first audition of the year – and in doing so, they also resignify the anthem in times it has only been used to reinforce hate speech and xenophobia.
But it goes beyond that. There is also a whole team working behind the scenes to keep the project going and they believe body, soul and heart in what is being done there. If that’s not the key to change, I don’t know what is. The Casa da Música, among so many things, is a reminder that a better future is built from the present.
“Thanks to this mission, we are supporting the youth of our Venezuela. We are Venezuelans and we can give our little contribution to help our children. I believe that if each one of us seeds in the hearts of our future, which are the kids, these values of respect, solidarity and kindness, that’s where the change in the country will be structured,” comments Maria, who has been working for a year and a half with the administration and logistics of the project and is also mum of two Canarinhos.
For her, being part of the mission is also a way to make the migration process less difficult: “It’s not easy being an immigrant, because it’s a process of leaving [your country] and getting to know new cultures, seeing beyond. This isn’t easy. But being here supporting the project has motivated me to always keep my mind and eyes on helping our children,” she says.
Reina, who also is part of the Casa da Música team and has kids singing in the choir, sees the project as a support network for the families who arrive. “I like to see how the kids here grow up and build their paths. If they come without a direction of what they want, they find more. And the parents benefit as well because they have the chance to get the project’s message and change their lifestyle. If it was bad before, they can make it better. So it’s a whole family that is restored and leaves here with a positive outlook,” she says.
Reina also comments on the hope the kids give to her. “They are young but they know the language, they know how to treat people from different countries who visit us, they learn music from different places…and if they can do all that, I like to believe that we can. I feel good,” she concludes.