World Refugee Day Community Arts Festival

World Refugee Day Community Arts Festival


Sunday, June 26, 2022 – 3-6pm

A FREE celebration featuring refugee performers from around the world, with music, dance, theatre and more. Meet and learn about the work of organizations that resettle and support refugees.

This festival will be an OUTDOOR block party, taking place right outside the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music at 58 7th Ave, Brooklyn NY. In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved indoors.

Categories: ,





MC: Imani Jean-Gilles



3:00pm – Introduction by Chad Cooper – BKCM 

3:05pm – Alyona Krutienko, Ukrainian Singer

3:15pm – Hancy Michaud, Haitian Drummer

3:35pm – Keynote Speech by Commissioner Manuel Castro, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

3:45pm – Safida Begum, Gilgit-Baltistan Singer-Dancer

3:55pm – doobneek, Fashion Artist

4:05pm – People’s Theatre Project

4:25pm – Speech by City Council Member Shahana Hanif

4:40pm – GeeLedge, Afrobeats Singer

4:55pm – Asia and Rebecca Chaqor, String Ensemble

5:10pm – Achiro Patricia Olwoch, Northern Ugandan Writer

5:30pm – Quartet Lead by Palestinian Kanun Player Firas Zreik

6:00pm – Conclusion by Kelly Agnew-Barajas – Catholic Charities

Garden Artists: Michael, Brooklyn Public Library Crafts, and others

Video Artists: Bahel Kaddar, Sayed Adiban, Osama Wehby, Shadi Khaled


Accompany Capital creates a pathway to self-sufficiency for immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs in New York City.  We have provided refugee-owned businesses with over 1,454 loans totaling over $6,000,000 and over 1,700 refugees have invested more than $24,000,000 in their IDA Program, receiving matching funds from Accompany Capital to invest in education, homeownership, and small business expansion, as well as technical and business training and assistance. 

Brooklyn Conservatory of Music aims to transform lives and build community through the expressive, educational and therapeutic powers of music. BKCM’s Park Slope home offers private music lessons, group classes, ensembles and music therapy. Through BKCM’s community engagement programs, we bring high-quality music education and music therapy to thousands of students and clients at public schools and community-based organizations across the city’s five boroughs. BKCM strives to be a safe, affirming and inclusive place for all people to come together and experience learning, joy, creativity and healing through music.

CAMBA, since 1977, has helped New Yorkers transform their lives by providing holistic programs to individuals, families and communities. Many New Yorkers face daily hurdles such as housing instability, living with HIV/AIDS, language barriers, domestic violence, and insufficient job skills. CAMBA takes a comprehensive approach to helping individuals, families and communities thrive, offering integrated programs in: Economic Development, Education & Youth Development, Family Support, Health, Housing, and Legal Services. Their programs build inclusive communities where New Yorkers have the support they need to reach their full potential.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York  provides a range of programs and services to assist the poor and vulnerable, non-Catholics and Catholics alike in New York City and communities in the Hudson Valley. The Refugee Resettlement department of Catholic Charities Community Services provides assistance to refugees, asylees, SIVs, Cuban/Haitian entrants, certified victims of trafficking, and unaccompanied minors from diverse backgrounds. The department offers case management, employment-based, and educational services that help clients feel secure in their new community.

HIAS: For over a century and guided by our Jewish values and history, HIAS has been there for refugees when and where they need help most. Now working in the United States and 15 other countries, HIAS has evolved from a resettlement agency to a humanitarian organization that provides comprehensive protection to refugees and forcibly displaced people. From providing critical legal, economic, and mental health services to advocating for governmental policies necessary to aid refugees and asylum seekers worldwide, we are a leader with the expertise, partnerships, and values necessary to respond to the global crisis.

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. HRF believes American leadership is essential in the struggle in the struggle for human rights, so they press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, HRF intervenes to demand reform, accountability and justice. For over 30 years, HRF has built bipartisan coalitions and teamed up with frontline activists and lawyers to tackle issues that demand American leadership.

International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In New York and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.

The Libertas Center for Human Rights is located in Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. Their mission is to provide survivors of torture and human rights violations in the New York City area with comprehensive services to help them heal, regain function and restore humanity in their lives. Their services include medical and mental health care (individual therapy, group therapy and medication management), psycho-social support, care-coordination and intensive social and legal case management to torture survivors who were persecuted at the hands of an authority figure in their home countries. If needed, Libertas can also provide psychological or medical forensic evaluations in support of asylum cases. In addition, they are currently providing art therapy to their patients. Since 2010, Libertas has used a strengths-based, trauma-informed and culturally-sensitive approach to providing holistic services to survivors of torture so they may lead healthy, confident and hopeful lives.

Muslim Community Network aims to accurately shape the public narrative of what it means to be #MuslimByMuslims. MCM does this through diversity education on Muslim faith and community,  building partnerships for peace across all faiths and facilitating the civic leadership of their community. Founded in 2003, their roots are local, and their reach is global, as they aim to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16 to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State. NYIC envisions a New York state that is stronger because all people are welcome, treated fairly and given the chance to pursue their dreams. Their mission is to unite immigrants, members, & allies so all New Yorkers can thrive. They represent the collective interests of New York’s diverse immigrant communities and organizations and devise solutions to advance them; advocate for laws, policies, and programs that lead to justice and opportunity for all immigrant groups; and build the power of immigrants and the organizations that serve them to ensure their sustainability, to improve people’s lives and to strengthen their state.

Women for Afghan Women, over the past two decades, has grown from a small network of volunteers to become the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan. Today, WAW has expanded to provide life-changing services, education, and vocational training for their clients across Afghanistan and in the United States (US) who have endured rights violations. WAW always hires locally and uses a bottom-up approach, local knowledge and a deep understanding of and sensitivity to local culture, traditions, customs and challenges.

Performers & Artists

Sayed Adiban is in his thirties and originally from Afghanistan. When the Taliban came to Afghanistan, 9 year old Sayed and his brothers fled to Iran. He was eventually deported back to Afghanistan, but due to further security issues he later fled to Indonesia, where he is currently based. Sayed studied French language and literature and has worked as a interpreter/translator with several intergovernmental agencies. He loves Persian poetry, and is a writer and a poet himself.

Petrina Ampeire is an African artist, performer, writer, and activist born in Uganda. Before going to law school in the UK (M.A. International Human Rights Law), Petrina started her career in show business as a television host for an entertainment show in Uganda. She has trained internationally in Brussels, London, specializing in Meisner at the New York American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Selected credits: Best Performance in a play in the 2021 Off Broadway World Awards (Revolution: Two Stories with the Same Ending), Columbia School of Arts’ International Play Reading Festival (Prod. by David Henry Hwang), New York Summerfest.

Safida Begum, one of the pioneers in the field of education who stood against the cultural and social norms to get education and educate girls in her hometown in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) in the late 70s. Gradually, she became the first woman principal, then educator. She trained 3500 teachers, 300 principals and 50 district education/ officers in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Bangladesh. Her degree from AKU -IED, visiting scholar at the University of Kansas, and experiences boosted her confidence, motivation, and interest to serve communities.  She became an activist in raising her voices against gender discrimination, domestic violence, cultural and endangered languages.  She became an empowered woman leader in GB.

She made the hard decision to change her pathway after hatred, harassment, and professional jealousy made her fear for her life. She began her life from scratch, making her children as strength to move on. Today, she works on a key position in New York City as an American citizen. Additionally, she engaged the artist community from GB and arranged successful online shows during pandemic, where she introduced new faces and new talents. She is running a group Facebook pages and YouTube channel (GBians Plus), where she shared the positive sides aspects of GB culture and collects stories to preserve the local endangered languages. She is planning to open a Nonprofit Organization. She wants to engage communities in sharing and learning from each other’s cultures, preserve their endangered  languages and bring their beauties and diversities to the diversified culture of NYC. She believes this approach will create harmony, tolerance, and respect for each other that will lead to the sustainability of peace in NYC.

Rebecca Chaqor is a violist and violin/viola teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. She is an avid performer with past concerts at notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Symphony Space in New York City and Place des Artes and the Musée de Beaux Artes in Montreal, Quebec. A cross-genre performer, Rebecca appeared with singer Dan Zanes at The Brooklyn Academy of Music and has experimented with Jazz, Improvisation, Klezmer and Folk music at venues such as Williamsburg Music Center, The Jalopy Theater and Shapeshifter Lab. Her string quartet was featured on an episode of Selling New York on HGTV. As an orchestral musician she has been on radio stations such as WQXR. Rebecca currently performs with the Chelsea Symphony, ÆON ensemble and is a founding member of The Elevate Ensemble, a multi-genre chamber music collective that focuses on performance in unconventional instrumentations. In addition to her performance pursuits, Rebecca is a dedicated musicologist with particular concentration on the socio-political implications of music on world culture. She is a passionate Suzuki teacher and is on the Suzuki faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory.

Muyambo Marcel Chisimba – Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he was taught as a young boy to paint by his uncle, Kabemba Albert Stounas, an acclaimed artist in Congo. Over the course of a number of years, Chishimba exhibited in Zambia, Swaziland, and Malawi. In 1993, after the death of his first wife amid extreme conflict in his homeland, Chishimba fled south to the Zambian border as a refugee. Never one to falter in the face of challenges, Chishimba painted and sold portraits and landscapes for nearly 20 years living in a Zambian refugee camp, in order to buy enough food to feed his family. His stunning portraiture caught the attention of former Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda during the president’s visit to the camp. Chishimba and his family later left Zambia and settled in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he now continues his 50+ year career as an artist, painting abstracts and landscapes with oil on canvas. His bold, dynamic strokes and his unique combination of earthy tones and richly hued colors are inspired by the culture and people of his African homeland.

doobneek is an asylum seeker who never tells where they are from. They study at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and they have a political brand for shoes and bags. They work for non-profits helping houseless people. Follow their brand’s Instagram at

GeeLedge is an artist who thinks deeply and dreams big. GeeLedge has performed in Cameroon, Lagos, Nigeria, Maryland and New York City. GeeLedge’s music is influenced by Afrobeats, reggae dance hall, hip-hop and r&b. He wants his music to serve as a source of empowerment and healing to the people, especially to the refugees worldwide. The artist shared, “My journey has inspired me to start up a project that will serve as a support system to all the refugees worldwide because I’ve realized that most talents are being buried due to lack of exposure and opportunities. So I’m calling on the American government and interested individuals to join me on this course. Let’s work together and make the world a better place.” Contact GeeLedge at 3463497136.

Imani Jean-Gilles is a first generation Haitian American born and raised in Bridgeport, CT . She’s currently a Education Services Manager at Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, CT. One of her biggest passions is being a visual storyteller . Most of her work focuses on social justice, race, urban living, immigration, migration and refugee crises throughout the world. @imanijeangilles

Martin Gomez-Constenla is a classical guitarist based in Brooklyn. He spent his early childhood living with his family in Buenos Aires, Argentina and then moved before his teens to Long Island, New York. He grew up in a household that listened to a variety of music genres. His parents played records from Argentine Tango singers, Edith Piaf, Bach, Mozart, and the original soundtrack to The Blues Brothers movie. He started playing guitar in his early teens and later focused on Classical Guitar. Martin received his Bachelors in Performance at The Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase. He enjoys playing Renaissance/Baroque music and works by South American composers.

Bahel Kaddar is in his early forties and originally from Damascus, Syria. He has a degree in Arabic Language and Literature and experience working as a journalist and teacher. Due to the conflict in his home country and difference in political opinions, Bahel had to relocate to Istanbul, Turkey, where he teaches Arabic at a university. He completed a Master’s in Education Management and he has been a Language Partner with NaTakallam since 2018. Bahel is passionate about the connection between art, language and healing, and he is a talented calligrapher.

Shadi Khaled is in his late thirties and originally from Qamishli, Syria. Due to conflict in his home country, and the subsequent invasion of his town by the Islamic State, Shadi fled to Erbil, Iraq. There, he spent several years living with his wife and children in a camp, trying to get resettled to Europe or the Americas. After years of waiting and with little success, he decided to flee on his own to the Netherlands. After a 3 month journey, he arrived to the Netherlands, where he claimed asylum and was accepted as a refugee. He is currently there, reunited with his family. Back in Syria, Shadi worked as a music teacher, and he enjoys connecting with others through music.

Ukrainian performer Alyona Krutiienko (RUNA) was born in the city of Kherson. At the age of 17, she moved to Odessa, where she entered conservatory. In Ukraine, Alona performed often and even began her own cover band. This would have been her ninth year performing with the ensemble. Before the onset of the war in Ukraine, Alona also starred in a feature film; the release of the film has been thwarted by the ongoing war. In addition, Alona was a contestant on the television show “Voice of the Country,” which is similar to the American show, “The Voice.”

Cynthia Franchesca Lizardo is an Afro-Dominican American woman born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Cynthia is currently based in New York. She has an immense passion for the arts such as dance, theatre, and music. This is where she finds purpose, healing and connection with others. She strives to spread love and peace every day through her artistry. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Arts with a Concentration in Theatre Performance from Marymount Manhattan College.

Hancy Michaud, born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, is a well-known congas player, and a sound engineer. The conga plays an important role in Haitian culture. The rhythms remind us of slavery, the battlefield, and sound of revolution. As a teenager, he developed a passion for congas. He practiced and developed his skills on the conga and started studying with a drum teacher from Cuba who introduced him to Afro-Cuban drumming. Hancy performed with bands and artists, and he also shared his talent with different dance schools and churches. Hancy is highly detail-oriented and dedicated live sound engineer with significant experience in sound production in Caribbean music. Top-level facility with all state-of-the-art musical production equipment. He worked with producers and clients to determine goals for recordings and provided needed sound quality. He mixed and edited sound recordings. He received the jazz festival sound engineer appreciation award in Montreal, Canada in 2013. His goal is to inspire a new generation of students discover what genres and styles they are most passionate about learning to play on the conga. He wants to bring love and unity with his talents to the communities he serves.

Chuk Obasi is a Nigerian-American actor, writer, director and choreographer. A regular PTP Company artist, Obasi is also a company member with The Private Theatre and co-Director with TÉA Artistry. He has recently worked with Intersections International (Artist in Residence), the National Dance Institute (Teaching Artist) and Village Playback Theatre (Performer). Obasi was a recipient of the 2019 Zelda Fichandler Award, a full scholarship to study with the Michael Chekhov Association at their annual international intensive training in New London, CT. Bachelor of Arts in Communication with double minor in Musical Theatre and Dance, SUNY Geneseo.

Achiro Patricia Olwoch hails from Gulu, in Northern Uganda. Achiro is currently an artist at risk in residence at Westbeth. She is an award-winning writer, director and producer after winning numerous awards and nominations for her Coffee Shop TV series as creator and writer and Yat Madit as head writer, and for her short films: The Surrogate, The Mineral Basket, Maraya Ni. She is currently working on a feature documentary, My Prison Diary, due for release in 2023 and she has three feature scripts in development. She is also in the process of completing her late father’s manuscripts, which he left behind after his death in 1994. This is alongside her first novel Sex or Slave, set in 1940s Uganda during colonialism. She also has in the works a memoir about her life as a lesbian in Uganda and her eventual escape. More about Achiro and her works can be found on her website:

Samea Shanori designed the art behind this year’s World Refugee Day Festival’s Poster. Samea is an Afghan sketch, digital, and collage artist living in New York. She was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and fled to the U.S. as an adult. Her dream was always to be an artist, and after years of working on her art and working to support herself, she is now able to be a full-time artist. Samea is an alumna of New York University and Columbia University where she studied art and public policy. She often works with charities and nonprofits like USaid to give back to her community in Afghanistan and hopes to make a real, lasting difference in the country one day. Samea worked with our marketing team to create the beautiful imagery for this event and bring art and color into our World Refugee Day celebration.

Osama Wehby is in his thirties and is originally from Al Swaida, Syria. Due to the conflict in his home country, he moved to Beirut. There, he is developing his artistic practices and gives training workshops for acting and miming. He has been teaching Arabic with NaTakallam since 2019. He is interested in psychology, history, arts, and languages, and seeks to develop meaningful relationships with people.

Firas Zreik is a Palestinian Kanun player, composer, arranger & educator based in New York City. At the age of 18 years old, Firas received a full presidential scholarship from Berklee College of Music – their most prestigious award. Born in Haifa to a musical family, his mother – Amal Murkus is an internationally renowned singer.  He has worked, recorded & performed with international artists from the highest caliber, such as Roger Waters, Shankar Mahadevan, Shreya Goshal, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba, Amal Murkus, Fabrizio Cassol, Amir Al-Saffar, Aynur Dogan, Raghu Dixit, Marwan Khoury, Elias Karam, Abeer Nehmeh and many more. In addition, he performed all over the United States, Europe & the Middle East, both as a Kanun player and as a musical director in some of the most prestigious venues and festivals such as Boston Symphony Hall, Lincoln Center, Carthage International Festival, Savannah Music Festival, Institut de Mont Arabe, Teatro Mediterraneo, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Smithsonian Museum, Palais des Congrès, Berklee Performance Center, The Jazz Gallery, Nuoro Jazz Festival and many more.

Firas is the lead Kanun player and soloist for The National Arab Orchestra, which is among the finest worldwide in that genre, he’s also the lead Kanun player for legendary Oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen, as well as the musical director of Amal Murkus’s band, which he also recorded on her latest album, in addition to producing many of her recent songs. He has so far released two original singles, one EP, and he’s currently upon releasing a full original album with his band.