Local artists come together to help support Russian woman taking sanctuary in Northampton church

Hampshire County

Local artists came together to raise money to support a Russian immigrant, who has taken sanctuary from deportation in Northampton.

A night of raising funds and awareness for a friend in need, ROOTSTOCK celebrates art that defies borders and questions the meaning of the word home.

Russian born Irida Kakhitranova continues to face deportation… and as of April, she entered sanctuary at the Unitarian Society of Northampton. 

Cait Simpson, the benefit organizer, said Irida has been a family friend for more than 10 years and to have art as a platform to bring awareness for Irida, she said, is a privilege.  

“I thought if we can get a bunch of people in the room together and if we could connect over art and start these conversations, you know that might really do something for Irida,” said Simpson. “Maybe we could get money, maybe we could get people to reach out and help in other ways.”

A group effort put together by family, friends and local artists.  And for one musician, who’s mother immigrated to the U.S. from Portugal, as an artist she said she feels a strong responsibility to to use her stage and her platform.

“To speak out against injustices and also use that performance space as a vehicle for organizing and bringing people together,” said Emma June

Kakhtiranova is the third foreign national in sanctuary in western Massachusetts churches.

“She is a strong woman, she always trying to keep a smile on her face, and she is just determined to keep her family together,” Janet Bush, Minister, Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, added.

Bush said, not only are they supporting Ireda’s efforts to stay in this country, but also more broadly supporting efforts to try to undo and fix the “broken and unjust immigration system in our country.”

The money raised at Saturday night’s event will go towards legal aid and Irida’s family needs.

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