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Dance Concert to Honor Friends of Woni’s Charitable Work in Sub-Saharan Africa

World Dance for Humanity is among featured performers during evening of reflection and celebration

Residents of a Rwandan village greet visiting dancers from World Dance for Humanity.
Residents of a Rwandan village greet visiting dancers from World Dance for Humanity. (World Dance for Humanity)

Friends of Woni International started with a vision of providing access to clean water, supporting education and mentorship programs to those in need with an aim to help people create better lives for themselves and their families.

Now the organization’s initiatives have impacted 15,000 people in the past decade. Friends of Woni fosters a future which depends on a new breed of leaders, ready to solve the world’s most challenging problems.

Friends of Woni raises charitable donations to invest in projects within underserved communities and ideas that can enable communities to thrive.

On Nov. 19, Friends of Woni will mark 10 years of supporting communities through educational initiatives, safe-water projects and innovation through sustainable solutions.

Friends of Woni will host Friends Impact Concert, an evening of live-show performances, from 7-11 p.m. at Marjorie Luke Theater, 721 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara.

The evening of reflection and celebration will recognize the impact Friends of Woni has made in varied communities in remote parts of Sub-Saharan Africa as well as in Santa Barbara.

Board members have decided to bring together extraordinary experiences in a united mission to connect people for purpose with a vision where all people, even in the most remote areas of the world, can create opportunity for themselves and others.

World Dance for Humanity — a group of Santa Barbara women who use dance to raise funds to aid survivors of the catastrophic 1994 genocide in the African nation of Rwanda — will be the first group to perform live dances.

World Dance is led by Janet Reineck, a 2012 Independent Local Hero, who teaches dance classes at the Santa Barbara Dance Center and the SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning, with all proceeds going to Rwanda.

When not dancing, World Dancers volunteer at the Westside Boys & Girls Club, helping the club serve 100 kids a day with limited staff.

A group of vibrant African dancers led by Chris Njunge also will take to the stage. The group has a rich background in dancing, teaching and performing traditional and urban dances from Africa. They've danced and competed in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

In the U.S., the group has taught in festivals including DC Bachata Festival, Tabanka Texas, Seattle Salsa Congress, Tri-Cities Salsa Congress, Mexico City Kizomba Exchange and Afro Creole Miami Festival.

Omar Arreola will end the night with some energizing performances. He recently opened the Pepe Aguilar Concert at the Arlington Theater. He will perform his music from the release of his new album Mi Destino “My Destiny,” which was recorded in both Los Angeles and Mexico.

Arreola's emerging music embraces the genre of Mexican mariachi music with flair. He won the competition El Ray del Mariachi.

The program will be festive, but also represent a more poignant message: a commitment to humanity is ultimately a celebration and not a tragedy. The anniversary celebration will benefit the provision of equitable access to safe water in a rural community high school in Kenya.

The event is supported in part by the Marjorie Luke Theatre’s Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Fund.

— Friends of Woni International.

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