Local church hosts refugee relief dance

In this Jan. 12, 2017 photo, Ermias Gebrehawariat, 7, left, and his sister Samrawit Gebrehawariat, 9, look over recorder music with their mother, Helen Reda, right, after school in Missoula, Mont. The Eritrean refugees who spent the past eight years in Ethiopia are adjusting to life and snow in Missoula. The Missoulian reports Biniam Adhanom, Reda and their children were the last four of a dozen nationals from the obscure, oppressed country on the Horn of Africa to arrive under the auspices of the International Rescue Committee. (Tommy Martino/The Missoulian via AP) Photo credit: Associated Press

By Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer

A refugee relief dance and silent auction will be held at Lake Shore Baptist Church on Friday. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event will benefit the International Rescue Committee.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. A $10 donation is suggested.

The IRC is an organization that helps people whose homes and jobs are being threatened by conflict or disaster to “regain control of their future,” according to its website. The IRC has its roots in the American branch of the International Relief Association that was founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein, according to its website.

Since then, the IRC has aided in relief efforts all around the world, including the current refugee crisis in the Middle East.

“With the current refugee problem around the world, we wanted to do something positive to address that issue, and so, in this particular case, it’s a fundraiser for the International Rescue Committee. This is in support of their work here in Texas, in Dallas, in the U.S. and around the world,” said event organizer Dr. Stephen Gardner, the director of the Mayo McBride Center for International Business and Herman Brown Professor of economics.

Gardner said that while the event will be fun for attendees and timely for Valentine’s Day, it is also a great opportunity to raise money and awareness for an important issue.

“According to our Christian traditions, but also according to international treaties, [like] the Geneva Conventions, we have a responsibility to respond to these kinds of needs,” Gardner said.

The event will feature performances from local artists, such as After Midnight, a band comprising Gardner and Robert Darden, a professor in Baylor’s department of journalism public relations and new media.

Darden said that while he was listening to Christmas spirituals, with their message of a desperate family and a child in a foreign land, he kept seeing photos of refugees. The photo that pushed Darden to take action was one of a Syrian child face down on a beach in Turkey.

“That could be my child – that could be Jesus,” Darden said.

Darden also said many Americans believe the refugee crisis is an important issue, and want to help but do not know how. Even writing a check does not feel like enough for some people, Darden said. He also said this dance and auction provides attendees with a chance to participate in an event and hear about the cause that they are supporting, rather than just donating money and wondering if it made any difference.

“There’s no politics involved in helping children,” Darden said.

Darden said the purpose of the event is not to lecture attendees but to give people an opportunity to help those in need.

Those interested in attending can contact Gardner at steve_gardner@baylor.edu. Lake Shore Baptist Church’s address is 5801 Bishop Drive.