NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On November 3rd, 2016, Areté Youth Foundation, the Romani Media Initiative and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum combined to present the 1st annual Romani benefit concert “Sing It Romanes” at the Bohemian Hall at the Czech Consulate in New York City.
“Sing it Romanes” took the audience on a musical journey through the history of the Romani people, depicting the struggles and hardship they encountered in the face of persecution while celebrating their culture, accomplishments and perseverance.
With over 120 people in attendance and over 25 percent Romani participation, the event featured 15 photographs and stories of Areté Youth participants brought to us by Chad Wyatt and Mary Evelyn Porter of RomaRising. In addition, for the next 3 months, Connecticut-based Mecha Noodles restaurant group will be educating customers about the Roma as part of their “Ramen for Roma” Eat Justice campaign.
The event in total raised around $20,000. The final tally represents the largest donation ever made to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on behalf of the Romani people. The tally also represents the largest fundraising effort for Areté Youth Foundation in a single night.
“We are overwhelmed with joy from the support,” said George Eli, Executive Director of the Romani Media Initiative. “The night proved that a grassroots movement is possible when you utilize entertainment and purpose. In my experience, people will always come to be entertained and listen without prejudice.”
The Romani people – commonly called by the derogatory name “Gypsy” – are an ethnic group thought to have originated in Northern India over a thousand years ago. Now the Roma comprise the largest ethnic minority in Europe with population estimates as high as 15 million. There are also roughly a million Roma living in North America. Romani people remain highly marginalized especially in Eastern Europe and are routinely deprived of education, employment opportunities, social services and even basic health care.
Among the many Romani performers at the event were Vadim Kolpakov, an acclaimed guitarist and collaborator with Madonna, and Petra Gelbart, founding member of the Initiative for Romani Music, and member of the band Via Romen.
For pictures of the event, click on the Areté Youth Foundation Flickr Account: