The Academy Awards was not the only major Hollywood event this season. I was recently witness to a kind of revelry reserved for the stars on the 27th floor of the Shangri-La. The Black Card Cabaret, hosted by Guy Perryman and RIJ, brought together a plethora of talented and entertaining performers who successfully kept their fellow party-goers laughing, cheering, and dancing throughout the evening.
Refugees and the fine wine of Hollywood came together in the Miraval Gallery at the Cabaret. Jeroboam generously donated free-flowing Miraval Rosé, a wine produced on the estate owned by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Jolie is a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR and regularly visits refugee hot spots around the world. The Miraval Gallery featured talented musical acts and the stories of our inspiring beneficiaries. The stories served to remind our donors of how their generosity continues impacts people around the world, and I know hearing them makes me feel honored to be an intern with RIJ. To me, these stories elucidate how refugees are incredibly capable and talented people who are victims of circumstance. While conflict may have temporarily rendered them dependent on some form of assistance, it does not mean they are destined for dependency. Bizimana and Chenisamoyo–two of the many individuals whose stories were on display–exemplify the universal struggle of refugees to regain their dignity.
Chenisamoyo from southern Matabele Province, Zimbabwe
“Coming to Bienvenu gave me back my strength and enabled me to regain my self-respect”.
Chenisamoyo was very sick when she came to the Bienvenu Shelter in Johannesburg. She is slowly improved and has attended a child care course.
Bizimana Francois from Rwanda.
Bizimana Francois attended business training funded by RIJ in Nairobi. He now runs a successful snack business and even employs some Kenyans. He is also a musician and received an award for his video “Cry Of The Refugees”.
The events of the evening gave me a new perspective on non-profit work. I typically picture fundraising as an all-around arduous task where NPOs rely mostly on the good will of potential donors. But all of the guests/donors looked as if they were having the time of their life. I experienced first hand that NPOs can host events just as enjoyable as the rest, and it is actually one of the most effectual means for NPOs to raise money.
– Benjamin Ennis