Over 200 musicians and performers came from across Vermont to join with the Somali and Somali Bantu communities to raise funds and awareness for Somali famine relief on June 17th. The proceeds from the concert’s ticket sales are being donated to organizations to help provide aid for the over 2.9 million people affected by famine and drought in Somalia.
The Green Mountain Mahler Festival performed Johannes Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem” at the Elley-Long Music Center of St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. GMMF is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that provides local avocational, professional, and student musicians to perform pieces in a symphonic ensemble. The musicians were accompanied by a visual performance from the Bread and Puppet Theater company that depicted the emotional aspect of a refugee’s journey. Members of Bread and Puppet were joined by volunteers from the community, including VRRP intern Arda Kanberoğlu and case manager Abdirashid Hussein.
Members of the Somali and Somali Bantu communities spoke about their experiences as refugees andas new Americans, in addition to thanking the performers, audience members, and volunteers for their support. One former refugee, Masiti, talked about the journey she and her family made from their home in Somalia to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya when she was a child. She described the danger, urgency, and uncertainty her family faced as well as the relief. Another Somali Bantu speaker spoke about the struggles facing new American families, particularly how there can be a cultural divide between parents and children, particularly those that were born in the U.S. or arrived here when they were very young.
The festival was an event that brought the community together, celebrated diversity, and supported and made welcome many new Americans.