This week saw the night of world music and dance performed for helping refugees in the city.
It’s Saturday night and there’s something interesting happening inside the old stately church in Cardiff’s Newport Road. You can hear the deep resonant drum beat as you approach, and as you walk inside a crowd of people are singing together and swaying their hands in the air.
Tonight’s audience came from all around the world, and they are gathered together to listen to Refugee Rhythms: music for refugees and people who really care about their lives in the city.
“I have seen music change people’s lives and people who are refugees have told me it has given them the strength to be a part of such a group,” says Laura from, Oasis World Choir and Band, one of the bands attended the event.
The Refugee Rhythms 2020, the night of world food, music and dance, was held by the Student Action for Refugees (STAR) society of Cardiff University. It has about 10 years of history to raise money through tickets and donated food to help refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff.
Hannah Logan, the president of STAR has been volunteering at her society for 3 years, says, “It’s a really great night for refugees and all the people here, we have amazing bands, DJs, free meals. It’s a great communal experience for refugees and students to enjoy things together.”
Bands and musicians also enjoyed this charity music event, “Music events like Refugee Rhythms has given them a chance to feel welcome – to feel ‘normal’ in the everyday activity of singing and making music as they may have felt within their country of birth,” says Laura.
Matthew Poston one of the drummers from the Barracuda band says, “I got so much happy this year to join in this event as a performer, sharing music and seeing people dance with my drumbeat with smile and comfort. We played African and Brazil music which are kinds of universal language can set our audience on fire immediately.”
Volunteers from STAR are working together to help refugees and asylum seekers not only through music but also by holding weekly English conversation classes to help them practice, make new friends and to increase their confidence and feel better living in Cardiff.
The STAR president Hannah explains these conversation classes, “The class is usually like two refugees and two Cardiff University students pair a table, and we’ve given them topics, which are really useful but it’s quite informal because we want to make them feel welcome and comfortable about the conversation.” Their main aim is to help refugees get used to life in Cardiff and erase the stigmas around them.
In such a lovable city like Cardiff, assistance and help are not limited in the student’s society like STAR, but also scatted all over the institutions and social organizations. Charity organization Space4U, which provides the venue for this Refugee Rhythms event, is such a welcoming organization for refugees and people who are seeking asylum.
Other local schools in Cardiff are also actively involved in helping refugees. Arabic and Spanish teacher Nidal Amir Alcalde from UWC Atlantic college talks about their school helping projects, “Our students are encouraged to join in the refugees helping the centre to help and communicate with them,” as a responsible teacher he also mentions, “I am educating a person, not just a student. Encourage them to help refugees is a way to teach them to be responsible to society.”
The acceptance and helping towards refugees in a city can be a good expression of love and responsibility. Events like the Refugee Rhythms can be a bridge to connect people from different background, countries and let them leave their problems behind and fully immersed in the music and love.
At the end of the performance, Laura from the Oasis World Choir and Band encourages the audience to take the hands of the people around them again. The singing of “we are together, we are family” echoing in the church for a long time.