International Dance Night to Welcome Venezuelan Refugees

On Friday, November 3, 2017, the International Dance Night to Welcome Venezuelan Refugees event had signs posted around the St. Paul Catholic Newman Center in Bloomington, IN that said “Welcome” in different languages. (Karli VanCleave/WIUX)

The Bloomington Refugee Support Network and the Muslim Student Association welcomed a group of Venezuelan refugees by holding a fundraising event this past Friday at the St. Paul Catholic Newman Center.

The event was called International Dance Night to Welcome Venezuelan Refugees. The organizer, Savannah Powell, says she began helping the Venezuelans in August because there isn’t a resource infrastructure in Bloomington. The Bloomington Refugee Support Network works to gather food, clothes and resources. Powell says, it was time to do something fun.

At the International Dance Night to Welcome Venezuelan Refugees, nearly 80 people attended on Friday, November 2, 2017 in Bloomington, IN. (Karli VanCleave/WIUX)

“We decided that we wanted to do a celebration to welcome them to the community,” she said.

The event had food, music and three different cultural dance performances. Indy Hula a polynesian hula group, Ritmos Latinos a cuban salsa group, and the Saida Sisters a Kizomba group.

At the event, Powell says Venezuela has been undergoing a humanitarian crisis, which leads families to flee to America. Powell says, these are families who have fled to Bloomington after unimaginable circumstances.

“It is evident the extreme violation of human rights,” Powell said. “Because of this, lots of Venezuelans are fighting for the only solution to save their lives and the lives of their families is to flee their country.”

The Indy Hula group performs a form of polynesian dance at the International Dance Night to Welcome Venezuelan Refugees in Bloomington, IN on Friday, November 3, 2017. (Karli VanCleave/WIUX)

Powell says she has been working with undocumented people and refugees since she was 13 years old. She says she grew up in a spanish language immersion school and has spent much of her life with a passion for helping immigrants.

“The United States has been one of the countries who has received the most Venezuelans with open arms and many Venezuelans have found refuge and safety here and they have been able to find asylum here to save their lives,” Powell said. “We want to welcome these new members to our community.”

Powell says she would like to thank the volunteers and food donations at the event. The International Dance Night to Welcome Venezuelan Refugees raised $626 for the families who came to Bloomington.