SPRINGVILLE — Music is a language we all understand, and local artists, with the help of refugees, are sharing their talent in hopes of spreading a message of love.
A music video, a DJ Evans Media production, was released on World Refugee Day. It honors Utah’s newest residents and features nearly 50 refugees who have resettled in the Beehive State, including the Voronetska family.
Masha Voronetska, 13, and her family fled Kyiv, Ukraine, at the beginning of the war and made their way to Utah in March. The journey was a heartbreaking and unimaginable experience for the teenager.
“I’ve seen some things that I’ve only seen in horror movies before,” Masha said. “I was scared.”
Masha, who missed the comforts of home, looked for a way to connect with her new community through dance. She began ballet classes, and in June was asked to perform in a local music video.
“I was so excited to participate,” she said. “All my life in Ukraine, I was going to ballet academy. All my friends are from ballet. Ballet, to me, is a form of art. All the movements are so beautiful and I can really express myself.”
In the video, Masha dawned a traditional Ukrainian flower headdress, along with ballet pointe shoes, as she danced on stage at the Rivoli Theater in Springville.
Local singers Yahosh Bonner and Halee Crowther also performed under images of refugee children painting peaceful, anti-war signs.
The video featured the song “Peace, Be Still,” written by Sharie Saunders Howell and produced by Jonathan Keith. Howell told KSL her goal was to shed light on the refugee community in Utah and to raise awareness for the nonprofit Utah Valley Refugees.
To date, the nonprofit has helped nearly 160 refugees resettle in the state.
The organization’s executive director hoped the video would spread awareness about how they help refugees integrate into new communities and would encourage more people to volunteer and donate* to support their efforts.
“Music is the best channel of communicating,” said Leonard Bagalwa, executive director of Utah Valley Refugees. “Many of the refugees featured are children who have been through a lot. These children are innocent. Some of them are born in a refugee camp and they come here so they know nothing about politics or anything that happened in their home country. We just hope that people will join our effort to support them.”