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Berkeley Benefit Concert: Youth Support MCN Through Activism

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Jill and Del with Voces Fuertes


Last month, 30 teenagers from around Berkeley, California, piled onto couches and squatted on shag carpeting in a rec room of a local Presbyterian church. They had been listening to Deliana Garcia, MCN’s Director of International Projects and Emerging Issues, and Jillian Hopewell, MCN’s Director of Communications and Education, share real-life stories of how MCN is joining forces with volunteer clinicians and pro-bono attorneys for Medical Review for Immigrants, a project to help immigrants in detention with urgent health needs get out of detention and into care. The stories were harrowing, and without the rapid work of dozens of clinicians, the immigrants at the center of the stories could have died. The group reflected on how many have yet to be helped, who need urgent care but aren’t receiving it. The room was hushed. A young person toward the front of the couches raised her hand: “How do you maintain hope and avoid burnout?” she asked.

“It has been inspiring to see people rise to the occasion, to have a moral compass,” Hopewell noted. “Lots of people are hungry to do something -- and that gives me hope.”

Hopewell and Garcia were in Berkeley to meet with Voces Fuertes Berkeley, a student-led group of young activists who had watched with horror at the impact of immigration policy at the border, and wanted to make a difference by raising money for a frontline organization through a benefit concert. After researching various organizations to support, they chose Migrant Clinicians Network and our new Medical Review for Immigrants program -- and got straight to work. The product of their efforts, a benefit concert on October 26th, will feature young artists and performers from around the Bay Area.


Voces Fuertes Poster


“We have a lot of resources and artists around us because of the school we go to. I’m looking forward to playing with someone I’ve never played with before,” said Dakota Dry, an eleventh grade musician who is on the Voces Fuertes executive committee, along with four other young organizers, Grace Connallon, Ruby Chan Frey, Hannah Mayer, and Sylvia Ettinger. As part of their preparation for the event, the five teens recently interviewed Marsha Griffin, MD, MCN’s Board Chair and frontline pediatrician on the border, and Jennifer Harbury, a well-known civil rights attorney who has lived and worked for four decades in the Rio Grande Valley and has worked extensively with Dr. Griffin. “It’s inspiring to see how people have dedicated their lives to end oppression… to be on the frontline of that kind of work. Now I’m starting to think about how I can be on the frontline as well,” Dry noted. “I already know there are lots of issues -- but now I’m seeing what people can do about it.”


Voces Fuertes Founders

The Voces Fuertes Executive Committee - (from left)
Gracie Connallon, Sylvia Ettinger, Hannah Mayer, Ruby Chan Frey and Dakota Dry

Connallon, a tenth grader, agreed: “Dr. Griffin’s work is a tangible way to put her anger into doing something. As teens, we can sit in our anger all the time. To see her using it to make things better is amazing.” But the inspiration clearly went both ways. Both Dr. Griffin and Ms. Harbury praised the young activists for using music as a way to bring people together and educate the community about the horrific conditions that people are living through along the border.

“There’s nothing better than art to change peoples’ minds, to help them see the real lives and value inside each of these stories,” Dr. Griffin said. “It brings it to life.”



October 26th, 7 pm

First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, 2407 Dana Street, Berkeley, CA 94704

$10 Suggested donation; All proceeds benefit MCN.

Please join us -- and help spread the word!
MCN’s Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery page:

Read more about the organizers of Voces Fuertes Berkeley at:

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