“I want them to feel joy because I know how it is to be in their place…it’s very hard, it was very hard for me too,” Dorian Leugoue Tchanga Alain said to CNN reporter Miguel Marquez regarding the thousands of refugees arriving in Romania from Ukraine. A dance instructor and former refugee himself, Mr. Alain has started a class for women and children staying at a JRS shelter in Romania.
“He has this capacity to get people involved,” Bianca Albu told JRS/USA. Years ago, Mr. Alain was a beneficiary at the same JRS Romanian center where he now teaches. Since arriving in Romania, he has moved into the city and established a dancing career. He has taken the circumstances as an opportunity to give back.
Mr. Alain saw where his talents could meet the community’s needs. His first project was a dance fundraiser. He reached out to the JRS shelter expressing his desire to host a charity dance competition. Through the local TV news stations, he publicized the event. Mr. Alain raised over $200 during the dance competition and gave all of the proceeds to the JRS shelter.
“It was totally his [own] generous offer,” Ms. Albu said, explaining how Mr. Alain had reached out to the JRS center without any request from the staff there.
Mr. Alain’s generosity and passion for dance did not end with the fundraiser. After the event, he contacted the shelter again asking for more ways to get involved and help Ukrainian refugees. With his background and expertise, Ms. Teodor asked if he would teach a dance class to the women and children staying there.
During the first class, Ms. Albu recounted, the participants were a bit shy. Perhaps in part to the presence of a CNN camera crew and reporting team, perhaps in part to the newness of the situation. Thanks to Mr. Alain, though, once they got moving on the dance floor that shyness disappeared.
“He is really great, not only at dancing, but as a teacher,” Ms. Albu continued. She explained how the Ukrainian refugees “really enjoyed it and they worked hard” throughout the class.
“This was a stress relief, for two days we were not able to eat or sleep.” One Ukrainian mother told Mr. Marquez about the dance class. Her son, just eighteen years old, had to stay behind in Ukraine. Even though it was just a fleeting moment, she was grateful that she and her young daughter could disconnect from the trauma they had endured.
Mr. Alain has since committed to returning to the shelter once a week to continue these dance classes. Ms. Albu anticipates that the benefits of this form of movement and expression will only increase as the Ukrainian women and children become more comfortable. In addition to other JRS Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services that this center offers throughout the week, Wednesdays will now be a time for movement, music, and joy.