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Language and cultural courses with refugee teachers

We train and employ refugees to be teachers of their language and culture, contributing to their socioeconomic inclusion in Brazil.

Photo of Abraço Cultural
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Brazil today has 10,000 refugees and 80,000 refuge applicants. Most refugees go to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro looking for opportunities. Unfortunately, there are not enough public policies to integrate these refugees into our society. Many of them are over-qualified, but end up unemployed or underemployed due to various obstacles: they do not speak Portuguese, cannot validate diploma, there is still a lot of prejudice and ignorance of employers, etc. Our project seeks to use the potential of refugees to generate income and facilitate their adaptation in Brazil. Our language and culture courses are not only aimed at generating income for teachers, but also at breaking down cultural barriers and stereotypes that Brazilians have about refugees. We have already trained more than 100 refugees to teach language courses and have generated over $ 1 million in income for teachers. Today we have 20 teachers working in São Paulo and 15 in Rio de Janeiro, who teach English, French, Arabic and Spanish.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Our project operates in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but we also have branches in Barcelona and Paris.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Many of the refugees arriving in Brazil come alone and need a support network. The purpose of the project is to bring cultures together. Our students build strong bonds with teachers and support their inclusion in society. Our team of teachers, however diverse, are very supportive. Even though they come from 12 different countries, they have one point in common - having to leave their countries forcibly - and that brings them very close. They consider themselves today as a family!

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

By giving them the opportunity to teach what they know best, we contribute not only to their inclusion in the job market and income generation, but also to their personal and professional appreciation. Talking about their country and culture in the classroom, and seeing so many people interested in getting to know them better, makes them feel empowered and more confident to move on. The bonds they create with students make them feel less alone, more welcomed.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Our project aims to raise awareness about the cause of the refuge. We work with other organizations to sensitize companies to hire more refugees, for example. In the courses, events and lectures we promote, we talk a lot about refuge and non-hegemonic cultures. Our goal is to break prejudice and stereotypes that people have from different cultures, with which they only have contact through the media, which often only shows one side.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

In 2014 we had contact with many refugees who were arriving in Brazil and who had a hard time entering the job market, despite being qualified. Many of them spoke more than one language and had a culture very different from ours, which could draw the attention of Brazilians. We created the project in order to use this potential to generate income for them and facilitate their integration into our society. The aim was to take another look at the refugee: not the poor guy who needs help, but the active subject, the workforce, who actively contributed to our society.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Our focus is on selling language and culture courses, with the aim of generating income for refugee teachers. We have a language school in São Paulo and another in Rio de Janeiro. We have already received over 4,000 students in 4 years of existence. We also hold cultural events to promote refugee cultures. We give lectures and conversation circles to raise awareness of the refuge theme.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

In addition to generating income for teachers, which helps them settle in Brazil, we promote their cultures, which helps break down cultural barriers and prejudices that Brazilians still have. With the money they receive for their classes, refugee teachers can rent a home, buy food, have a comfortable life in Brazil, and send money to their families who are still in their home countries.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We work with other organizations that promote the cause of refuge. Many of them work with primary care and refer refugees who have the profile of our teachers. We also work with other organizations aiming at integrating the refugee into the job market. We are unable to absorb all the refugees in our project, so we refer them to other organizations. We also work with companies, schools and colleges, raising awareness about the cause.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full Scale Roll Out: We have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base (i.e. when innovation has reached 84% or above of the target population or above 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Abraço Cultural

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

We have a team of professionals who are responsible for the professional and pedagogical development of refugee teachers. Before the refugee begins to teach, he / she undergoes a 2-month pedagogical training. After joining the project, there is a continuous follow-up of our team to develop their skills as a teacher. Our pedagogical team is also responsible for the preparation of teaching material, which is done with the help of teachers in order to bring non-hemonic cultures to students. There are other people on the team who are responsible for the operation and the communication and events. Our project has several strategic partners, such as companies, schools and colleges. Thus, we have been able to reach more people and increasingly help the refugees arriving in Brazil. Although our team is small, we work very professionally and have reached a large number of people interested in supporting the cause.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Brazil Spain France

Organization Headquarters: City / State

São Paulo Rio de Janeiro Barcelona Paris


Join the conversation:

Photo of Natalia Lion

Olá Abraço cultural, estamos muito felizes com a participação de vocês no desafio. Desejamos sorte. Convido vcs a participarem da nossa comunidade, nós somos o primeiro chapter do Brasil. Caso necessitem de ajuda ou algum suporte estamos aqui para apoia-los.

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