Refugee concert to help refugees set for El Mocambo May 7

  • April 18, 2010
archTorontoLogoTORONTO - When she volunteered for the Toronto archdiocese’s Office for Refugees’ Catholic refugee sponsorship conference in January, 25-year-old volunteer Emily Anderson noticed a marked absence.

“I know from experience volunteering with other organizations that there is often a lot of youth involvement, especially with mandatory high school volunteer programs, so I saw a real void and thought it’s probably because there’s not really an outlet for the youth to know about these kind of circumstances,” Anderson said.

Since then, Anderson has worked to actually develop such an outlet. The result? A charity concert, “Artists for Refugees,” with Canadian music artists Dylan Murray, The Rest, Memoryhouse, The Maladies of Adam Stokes, Stacey Kaniuk and Mandippal Jandu, all scheduled to perform at the El Mocambo night club May 7. Doors open at six and after paying the $12 cover, patrons will be able to bid, in a silent auction, on artwork and photography donated by local artists.

Guest speakers will also be on hand to talk about refugee issues.

“The goal isn’t only to raise money but also to open people’s eyes to what’s going on,” she said.

After having lived in South Korea for two years, Anderson said her own eyes were opened as she travelled and saw the various degrees of poverty and social or political issues in other countries.

“I saw firsthand the disparity of those wanting to resettle or move to another country and that started my interest in refugee rights.”

Profits from the event will go to African and Haitian refugees, through people who work directly with them, Anderson said.

Martin Mark, director of the Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto, said they are already working with the United Nations High Commissioner and the Ghana government to help identify single refugee mothers and help them to achieve financial independence through skills development.

“We (also) have connections with local micro financing NGOs to guarantee professionalism and efficiency,” Mark said, adding that their records will be public for transparency and accountability.

During the fundraising concert, youth will be further exposed to the reality of refugees such as these single mothers and why they would need to emigrate.

Jenny Hwang, community liaison for ORAT, said hopefully this will show youth that they can actually make a difference.

“A lot of the young people are wanting to get involved in social justice issues and the Office for Refugees seems to be a great place for them to be creative with their skills and learn about the issues and then actually have a direct impact on that,” Hwang said.

To buy advance tickets for Artists for Refugees, e-mail

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