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That deep faith and musical talent has been with Acevedo since she was a child in the jungles of Venezuela, one of six in her missionary family. She used both to build a music program for hundreds of indigenous children that became known throughout her country and was studied by Harvard University.

But then, three circumstances crashed down on Acevedo. First, her outspoken beliefs — for gender equality and against abuse — brought to a head tensions between her and the indigenous people she had dedicated her life to. Next, a law enacted in 2015 by the government mandated that non-indigenous people could not live in indigenous villages.

Finally, an economic crisis that had been festering in Venezuela for half a decade exploded. Starvation, crime and civil unrest became rampant in the country, with the United Nations’ Refugee Agency estimating this year that $46 million in foreign aid will be needed just to begin helping those displaced.

Acevedo made it to Allegany County with her family in 2017 as a Houghton College student, and now attends Jamestown Community College. More than 2,700 miles away from the place she thought she would die, Acevedo and her family are scratching out a new life. They are building connections, providing free music to several area churches while each go to school and work as visas allow.

Her father, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, brought his criollo Venezuelan family to Canaima National Park. They were tasked to live as missionaries among a village of Pemon people in the southeastern tip of the park, near Guyana and Brazil.

Acevedo developed a love of music under the instruction of her father, singing and playing violin as part of their worship services. By the time she turned 15, she began teaching the indigenous children how to read and write using simple songs. That’s when she noticed that many had innate musical abilities.

And eventually, as she established her foundation that not only educated but also fed and clothed roughly 500 indigenous families, Acevedo said she began earning respect. She said once in a 2012 ceremony, she was even proclaimed “an adopted daughter of the jungle.”

However, Acevedo said the relationship crumbled once she officially divorced her first husband after 12 years of marriage, and by 2015, the Venezuelan government affirmed a mandate from indigenous leaders that non-indigenous people — including spouses — could not live on tribal lands.

“What money you have, you cannot pay for anything,” he said, referring to the near-worthlessness of the country’s currency, bolivars. Exchange rate estimates fluctuate daily, and the International Monetary Fund predicts inflation will spiral to 13,000 percent by the end of this year.

The country’s calamitous state has been in the works since the death of former leader Hugo Chavez in 2013. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has been accused of rigging elections and filling crucial federal departments with unqualified loyalists.

Maduro’s authority has been further challenged by the massive dip in the country’s oil production. The industry accounts for 95 percent of export earnings, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which reported in January that Venezuela’s oil production hit a 30-year low.

However, civil unrest and murder rates have climbed. And as brazen as she is, there are many things even Acevedo will not discuss publicly for fear of endangering those still in Venezuela — or, as she calls them, people she has not yet been able to save.

Raquel Acevedo (center) plays in her apartment in Houghton with her family April 17 while sitting with (from left) daughter Shalomi Escriban and son José Escriban. The three will perform along with Daniel Escriban and David Peralta at two free concerts Friday and Saturday at the Palmer Opera House in Cuba. Danielle Gamble/Olean Times Herald

However, she joined Escriban at JCC’s Olean campus, where he is studying to be a plumber. Escriban also switched her major to nursing, as she had often practiced makeshift medicine in the jungle. When asked why, she said to her, medicine is not that different than teaching music.

Meanwhile, the family estimates they need to raise about $20,000 this year to stay in the U.S., which includes paying for living expenses and filing government documents. And because they refuse to work illegally, they have had to turn to the community for support.

The family is now well-known throughout the area’s religious community, having played at more than a dozen local venues. Russell noted it’s rare to have such well-trained musicians in the area willing to donate so much of their time. Peralta alone served as a professor with El Sistema — where he met Acevedo — and as a violist with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra under internationally-celebrated conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

That’s part of the reason why Russell’s church and others recently worked together to host two concerts at the Palmer Opera House in Cuba, both beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, that feature the Venezuelan family. The performances are free and at-will donations will be accepted.

“We are blessed to be a part of this amazing place, I tell you,” said Acevedo softly, sitting in her Houghton apartment with her children beside her and Russell nearby. While Allegany County may have one of the lowest per capita income levels in the state, Acevedo and her family have found nothing but generosity — donations include their housing, the cars in the driveway, the armchair she sits in.