Meet Ponto de Encontro!

Last but not least in student team introductions, we have project Ponto de Encontro – meeting point for the community.

Our team

Pihla is an architecture student at Aalto University with a background in social sciences. Her passions are combining the theories of social sciences with architecture to make sure that a built environment supports just and equality for all. She is especially interested in studying the power dynamics of architecture and architectural anthropology. In this project, she wants to highlight the possibilities not only shaping built environments but also lives.

Lea is an architecture student currently doing her exchange year at the Aalto University. Her interests in studies are social, cultural, and sustainable aspects of architecture as well as gender-studies. She is making sure we design with the users not for the users.

Danna is a Marketing Master’s student at Aalto University who is passionate about innovation and sustainability. While striving for a positive impact, her main interests involve UX and the creation of social capital. She makes sure there is order upon chaos in our project.

Our network

The project is done in close cooperation and partnership with UNCHR, their officers and team including among others implementing partners and volunteers. We are also in the process of involving the local university, Universidade Federal de Roraima (UFRR), and their students. Supporting and mentoring our project, we are more than happy to have Kristjana Adalgeirsdottir. She has a strong background in humanitarian responses and has mentored Sustainable Global Technologies course in previous years as well.

Our project

Since 2014 there has been an unprecedented number of Venezuelans fleeing political and social instability. A large number end up in the remote Brazilian city of Boa Vista. The government has worked alongside the UNHCR and other aid groups to set up “abrigos” (local name for refugee shelters located in the city) in Boa Vista as the first stop for refugees as they begin the process of starting new lives in Brazil. Unfortunately, this situation has led to the several ongoing issues with Venezuelan integration into Brazilian society. There is a language barrier; Brazil’s language is Portuguese, while Venezuela speak Spanish. This fact, along with other pieces of xenophobic misinformation, has resulted in some refugees being exploited or rejected from Brazilian communities. This tension has boiled over in the past, resulting in violence against Venezuelans in the form of fire bombings of abrigos or human trafficking.

Ponto de Encontro is created to respond to these challenges. Our project aims to strengthen wellbeing and integration of Venezuelan refugees within the hosting community. Through this project we are aiming to create a safe and adaptable community space located in the community. The community space allows its use for multiple activities for both refugees in abrigos and inhabitants of the hosting community offering the possibility of integration and supported communication between these two communities. By evaluating the current layout and developing a flexible community space in the abrigos, we hope to provide a more hospitable environment for all.

This will be achieved by hosting collaborative workshops with the refugees and the local inhabitants with focusing on those whose voices are not traditionally heard in the decision making, including children, women, and other marginalized groups.

You can follow our journey on Instagram: @sgt_ponto