Music bringing refugees, community together in Appleton

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jun 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-18 23:37:16-04

For Christopher Lwenzya, music is about healing and helping.

"What I do, I sing from inside," he said. "I write songs to educate people."

Lwenzya is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but became a refugee and fled to Zambia after the death of his parents. He was there for 17 years before he, his wife and children came to Appleton late last year.

World Relief Fox Valley helped him and his family settle into their new life in Wisconsin. Eventually, he and another former Congolese refugee who works for World Relief Fox Valley came up with an idea for a World Refugee Day celebration in Appleton.

Because he's a musician, Lwenzya wanted it to be a musical event.

"When we come together as refugees, it's a day that I need to help my friends who actually passed through trouble to forget about the past," he said.

Lwenzya, along with World Relief Fox Valley and Cory Chisel, organized the first-time musical celebration Saturday, two days before World Refugee Day. It included performances from Lwenzya, Chisel and other Fox Valley performers.

"I hope our community says wow, these people are part of our community and they have something to bring to us and add to our culture in the Fox Valley," said Tami McLaughlin, Executive Director of World Relief Fox Valley. "They're one of us."

MacLaughlin also said she hopes an event like this will help refugees feel welcome in the community.