BUFFALO, N.Y. — A local non-profit is bringing hope and a sense of belonging to refugee children living in Buffalo.
The non-profit Buffalo String Works teaches children to play string instruments to build community.
"They do have some music programs in their school but they don't have string instrument instruction," said Buffalo String Works Associate Director Megan McDevitt.
The founders of the charity saw the need five years ago when they performed for the students at PS 45 International School. The students were captivated by the performance and wanted to learn to play themselves.
The program started in 2014 and had seventeen students. "... since then we've grown to now we have 85 students," said McDevitt.
The charity teaches free lessons three days a week for violin, cello and bass. The group purchases or rents instruments for the kids to use free of charge.
The program mainly supports refugee or immigrant children but also some under served children in the area as well.
"A lot of our kids are from Myanmar which is the majority that we have right now. But they are also from Thailand, from Somalia, we've had Syrian students and Afghanistan. We have students from all over the globe," said McDevitt.
Helen Kyaw came to America through a refugee program in Berma. Both of her children are learning how to play the violin through Buffalo String Works. She became involved in the non-profits mission and was recently made a board member.
"Very happy, because before they don't know about music they don't know nothing and when I was young I wanted to learn music but I do not have the opportunity," said Kyaw.
"Music is definitely a universal language," said McDevitt. "Some kids who speak very good English and kids who speak less good English, they can still communicate through music."
If you would like to support the group they will be hosting their Annual Benefit Concert on February 16 at Clemont Mansion.