Angolan model Elsa Soares Martinez The 25-year-old, known as Zuri, chats with users of her TikTok account (Zurilym Limber) with a smile that spreads her joy. He shows the clothes typical of his country, the exotic hairstyles (which he asserts are the most classic, who have no idea how their hair is done in their African country), and shares their traditional rhythms and dances. Her expression has nothing to do with the 19-year-old who first landed in Argentina in 2018. She was awarded a scholarship by best rate for his country, for her nursing studies, to study medicine with great zeal, but the plans did not turn out as expected. For the student, the award turned out to be punishment.
Zuri was born in a province called Northern Angola malanje. Angola is a tropical country on the vast African continent, very close to the equator, where it is always hot. The lowest temperature during the year does not fall below 16 degrees. For this reason, the few Angolans living in Argentina, no more than 100 people, the model says, have a very difficult time adapting to the coldness of our climate. The language they speak is Portuguese, because they were a colony of that country until 1975.
She has four siblings and is the “middle”. He lived his entire childhood in a supportive community. Indeed, she says that today she handles, from afar, the food and study materials of six children in her neighbourhood, and loves them as if they were her own. The youngest one bears her name, Elsa. Zuri has always played various sports, volleyball, handball and soccer. Later, in Argentina, she was invited to play in the handball team, but for religious reasons she could not accept it. “I am Adventist. Matches, tournaments and competitions were held on Saturday and Sunday. I couldn’t train or play on Saturdays. That’s why I couldn’t join the team.”
Dream of studying abroad
The young Angolan woman says she had the best average in the country in vocational nursing school – she got her nursing degree – she got her Full scholarship to study medicine in our country. Besides her, 9 people from each province of her country with whom she will travel have also been selected. The José Eduardo dos Santos Foundation that awarded them a scholarship was more than well known, as it belonged to the former president of his country between 1979 and 2017, who died in Barcelona in July 2022 and has several charitable works.
“When we still had hours to travel, they called us to a meeting, at the headquarters of this institution, in the capital of my country, Luanda, and explained to us some rules, nothing too serious that we could not accept them. We arrived on June 20, 2018 in Entre Rios, in Libertador San Martin, A.; Adventist community. There is a university called Universidad Adventista del Plata. When they arrived, they were called to another meeting to inform them that the scholarship would finally be provided by another institution, “affiliated” to the former President’s advisor, Ismael Diego da Silva, hence the acronym IDS. We found out that this other group would be responsible for making ends meet,” the model explains.
The student explains that those who came from Angola did not have many resources and were not from wealthy families. “We were fine but we didn’t have the resources to survive in a foreign country.”
When they started studying, they were told that they had to go to Brazil for a few Annual meetings From the institution that supported them and asked them to sign a series of documents with new clauses that they did not agree with. “how Not being able to go back to our country and subject ourselves to physical punishment In the event that low or unnecessary grades are taken. Several people who have already been on this foundation for a long time have told us what this type of punishment was like that given to students who didn’t get the best grades. I’ve never been in that position. In fact, I was an valedictorian in that foundation, but yeah I saw what the institution calls shooting, which is punishment, Wave exercises in the military field, women and men, everyone went through the same thing, kneeling on stones, carrying weights for a long time, doing a lot of push-ups, – people who are not used to doing physical activity – and suddenly they get a lot of physical exercise, too much . It was a torture circuit.”
So when they were offered this contract, they were put in a dilemma: if they stayed, they would have to comply with the rules, or else they would send them back to their country. “We all had to go back to Angola, and we are excited. The expenses before arriving in Argentina were covered by our families. They provided everything so that we could have the passport, visa, clothes suitable for the Argentine climate and suitcases. We came excited with Dreaming of studying in a foreign country And keep going. So despite everything we didn’t get along with, we decided to stay. Some have had to go through this experience, says a young Angolan woman, but we didn’t think it could get any worse.
Every year they had to go to this holiday home, located in Rio de Janeiro, where some of those who did not get the best grades were subjected to these penalties. Sometimes they had little food due to stress and anguish. The university here in Entre Rios has started notifying us that the institution does not pay fees. He was Three and a half years of schooling without being able to attend classes on time and in the format because they did not comply. We were not allowed to travel to our country either, even though our relatives wanted to buy us a ticket by collecting money because it was against the rules and if we left they would kick us out.”
At the end of 2021, a visit to the home of a group of Angolans in Concepción del Uruguay prompted her to consider a change of course. “There I met a designer, Matthias Ancurena And he invited me to design a collection. I had just finished and wanted to take pictures. I didn’t have much to pay myself and my first job was as a model, so I accepted,” she says.
Soon after, the designer took her to present her clothes on the program Fashion cage, even when the program already contained its models. He has appeared in modeling agencies as well as in castings. when they called her from the show We agreed, hosted by Lizzie Tagliani, I knew it was my moment to make the decision. Connect with the foundation that caused him more harm than discomfort, or start a new life in Buenos Aires. “I think God enlightened me and I decided to take this opportunity. I talked to my family and I decided to take this opportunity because it was an open road for me that I couldn’t leave. I moved to Buenos Aires, to the downtown area.”
With regard to her role in social networking sites, the Angolan woman seeks to shed light on the questions she is asked, which she does not take badly, as she considers him innocent. ‘The usual question they always ask us when we arrive is how did they come from Africa? ‘There are planes, People are not in caves. There are civilized societies. “It’s good to do a little research. You can google Luanda, the capital of Angola. Benguela, Huambo. They are beautiful, modern places. Africa is not a safari, always full of lions. It’s good to investigate a bit, it’s good to ask,” he concludes.