Friday, June 21, 2013

New Website!

We are excited to announce the release of the beautiful, new Musicians without Borders website! 
We invite you to explore the website and check out all of the programs here:

Also, the Music Bus Goes Palestine blog will be moving here. Please keep updated with our projects and don't forget to subscribe!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Huda the Music Leader!

April 9th was the beginning of the Music Leadership Training Workshop for kindergarten teachers from the South Hebron area. Though the training workshop itself ended after a week, the music leadership has not ceased!

For the sake of sustainability and continual local leadership, Fabienne has planned to follow up with teachers after giving them adequate time to utilize the music material in their classrooms; Sunday was the first follow-up. We set out to the newly donated kindergarten building in Khashem al-Daraj, the location of the training. This time a room full of Huda's sweet, shy students rather than outgoing teachers welcomed us.

Sometimes when Fabienne checks up on trainees after a workshop, she finds that workshop leaders have struggled to put the new material into action. The obstacles can be due to many different factors, from simply forgetting a verse in a song to being too shy to implement more music in the classroom. At the end of every training week, the trainees receive a list with a description of all the activities and a CD with the music and songs that were used during the training. Rather than leaving the teachers empty-handed, Fabienne makes sure to support the teachers as they work to successfully accomplish the various activities with the children. 

However, Huda’s classroom proved to be a pleasant and unique surprise.

Fabienne prepared to review the songs and activities from the training, so that Huda could regain comfort and confidence. Rather, we quickly realized that each and every activity had already been performed! So instead of reviewing previous material, Fabienne taught Huda a new activity for her wonderful students to enjoy.

 We were so pleased to see the success in Huda's classroom, as she has shown to be a very ambitious leader and fast-learner! This success story has only increased the excitement to meet up with the rest of our new music leaders!

Much appreciation and thanks to these organizations for making all of this possible: 
World Vision International, Hebron International Resources Network (HIRN), and Musicians without Borders UK.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Celebrating Arab Deaf Awareness Week!

In honor of Arab Deaf Awareness Week, we have a very special gift to share with you! 

A massive amount of time and energy went into creating our gift, a very special music video about the deaf community living in Palestine. Not only is the music video about the deaf community living in Palestine, but also the lyrics are written and signed by those belonging to the deaf community.

The writers of the texts share their enthusiasm:

"I'm so happy due to the first song by the Deaf in Palestine! When I saw the final video, I started downright crying."
- Halimeh Sarabtah 

" I'm proud of myself because I am deaf. Despite the deep sorrow of the painful realities, we will continue to challenge the difficulties to deliver our message to all."
- Amineh Sarabtah

Halimeh, Amineh, and Abdullah share their authentic stories regarding the challenges they must face being deaf. Rap formation Palestine Street from Dheisheh refugee camp rap these original texts. Each verse drips with truth and fresh perspective. The video was produced by Tamara Abu Laban from Dheisheh refugee camp. 

This masterpiece came to life through collaboration between the hearing and deaf communities in the West Bank. However, the collaboration was about more than simply producing a stellar music video; we want to produce continual solidarity between these communities. 

Please assist us in generating global solidarity and awareness!
We ask you to please share this unique gift of music in honor of the deaf community living in Palestine! 

Verse 1
The sun rises
A beautiful girl dresses into school uniform
She arrives to class and sits at her desk
She sees the teacher speaking, but she didn’t hear
She complains, but the teacher didn’t understand
It’s the situation of silence,
‘From inside, I’m talking
But there is no response
I try to express myself, but they face me in rejection’
She didn’t try the to write her papers
Rather she paints an educational system that needs to be destroyed
The time is up, and the paper remains empty
Who must be blamed?
A deaf person who has the right to receive special treatment,
Or and educational system who does not recognize special needs?
So the result is no ink on the paper
She fails, but not because she didn’t study
It’s not about difficulty in learning
But it’s the problem of adapting to a disorganized educational system
‘They want me to learn, but without a translator
In the class everyone was talking
And I was trying to understand, but I couldn’t
There’s a feeling that something is missing
Am I different, or is the community just crooked?
Not accepting a deaf who needs to learn

Verse 2
I have 17 certificates
Yet it’s impossible to find a job
Why? I don’t know
I’m qualified, capable and I am not disabled
Unfortunately I am living in a society that can’t communicate with deaf people
I want to do something for the country
But the people in the country don’t want anything to do with me
I don’t want your sympathy
I want you to appreciate me
Together we can build a community, which will accept me
There is no equality in marginalization
I refuse to live on the margin with minds that have intellectual apathy
I am deaf, but I am able to say what’s on my mind
Erase your tears; do not cry
I am not indigent
Your sadness for me is a knife in my heart
I want you to actually know me
I want to build communication bridges
If I am just some dependent obstacle,
God would have never created me

Verse 3
After the difficulties in graduation and finding a job
I wanted to marry,
But I was confused
Shall I marry a girl who talks or a girl who is deaf?
But I wasn’t given any choices
The community is not for the deaf girl, because we’ll make deaf children
But between the talking girl and I,
There’s no communication
I am deaf, but I have feelings
I just want to marry a deaf girl
It’s not discrimination
But it’s just addressing my reality
The reality that represses my category
So what’s next?
Are the people going to give me my freedom?
Will they take my case into consideration?
Do not deny my existence
I have my own identity
We can’t change our place or the time
But we can change the human mind
For those who talk,
I have a question
If you were in my shoes, what would you choose?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Double Trainings!

Wow, what a busy week for Music Bus Goes Middle East! Not only did we have the delightful opportunity of hosting two trainings, but we also welcomed a guest from Musicians without Borders UK!

The exciting week began with the arrival of Lis Murphy, the director of Musicians without Borders UK. We greatly appreciated her fresh skills and perspective at both trainings. Her natural leadership and passion for community music were highly beneficial. Together, Lis and Fabienne brought an energy that composed empowerment for many blossoming Palestinian leaders. 

Lis & Fabienne leading in Bethlehem.

Each morning we ventured to the hills of South Hebron to host Music Leadership Training Workshops for kindergarten teachers from the different villages and Bedouin communities from the area. The women who participated in the training boasted the youthful joy of the children they teach. Warm smiles and fits of laughter accompanied this busy week of music activities, discussion, and singing.

By the end of the week, not only was there an increase in the number of participants, but there was also a noticeable increase in confidence, comfort, and charisma- all of which are important attributes required for leadership.

Each afternoon, we journeyed back to Bethlehem to host the Assistant Trainers Training Workshops. Simply upon entering the room, one could feel all of the energy offered by the diverse team of leaders: youth and adults, men and women, deaf and hearing, as well as refugee camps and isolated villages from the North and the South.  Together, the team helped encourage one another as they constructively built upon their existing gifts of leadership.

This solidarity was very visible throughout the course of the whole week, but particularly when each participant gathered the courage to lead his or her own activity with the group. The varied styles of leadership accurately reflected the unique personality of each participant.

During these months that follow, we are enthusiastic to see how all of these leaders use all of their newly founded skills and talents! 

A note from Lis Murphy:
"My week training MwB assistants in Bethlehem and women in South Hebron was really inspiring, informative, and moving. I felt privileged to meet so many people doing fantastic work in very difficult circumstances. We enjoyed learning vocal exercises, playing music games, sharing songs from around the world and writing our own songs. There is a huge need for the work of Musicians without Borders in Palestine. To be a part of supporting people to continue to care for and educate children and young people was a fantastic experience."

Thank you so much to Lis Murphy for your time and lovely leadership!
A great deal of thanks goes out to the following people and organizations for making all of this possible: Dr. Felicity Laurence, Artists for Gaza, World Vision International, Hebron International Resources Network (HIRN), Mwb UK, and MwB International.

We welcome you to learn more about  Musicians without Borders UK  here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The School Song

After much anticipation, I am happy to share with all of you the lyrics of the inspiring song that came from the hearts and minds of the passionate Palestinian youth. With the amazing translating skills of Mohammad and Hisham, rap workshop leaders from Dheisheh refugee camp, we now have the musical narrative of the youth's experiences in school.

Ahmad from Dheisheh camp while recording verse 1

Though it was saddening to hear of the pressure felt by the youth in school, it was even more so inspiring to realize the desire of the children to transform their schools to be as enlightening and empowering as possible. As Mark Twain once said, "Never let formal education get in the way of your learning." 

Verse 1
It’s seven in the morning, and I’m awake
I get dressed, I wash my face, and I brush my teeth
I put my shoes on
I start running so that I’m not late
Scared of the teacher
He’ll scold and punish me due to my violation
Instead of teaching me respect
He insults me saying, ‘you’re a donkey!’
That’s how the school day starts
The first class is pressure
The second class is pressure
The third class is pressure
And suppression on my chest

Verse 2
I am waiting for the break
It’s a chance to breathe
In the class you just sit
Not allowed to state your opinion
Not allowed to express your ideas
You’re told to just close your mouth
It’s a system of indoctrination
Is this type of learning for my benefit?
Or is the benefit for someone else?
If the manner of the teacher makes me hate history and science
Then teacher, teach us mathematics
Do not treat us like animals
Encourage us to study
Encourage us to understand
Do not create fear of the courses and exams

Verse 3
I study eleven different subjects
315 minutes of school,
but yet no music class?
There are 40 students in the classroom
But not even one teacher who is fair
I wish for a teacher who can deal with all levels of learning without distinguishing
I need motivation to reach my highest intellectual potential
That’s correct that we don’t have any extracurricular activities
But I truly have real talents
Take care of these talents
Develop these talents
So that one-day, you and I can celebrate it

We encourage you to support the youth in their intellectual ambitions and musical efforts by listening to and purchasing this powerful song at

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Firing Hope!

At first glance, this may not appear to be the prime place to host Musicians without Borders’ next workshop.

A closer glance may not help the location seem more appealing either- considering that the seemingly neglected pillar is actually a sign to make people aware of the Israeli military’s firing zone. 

This sign reads: Danger! Firing Area Entrance Forbidden
But in actuality, there is a very special community nestled in these vast, open hills of South Hebron. This area is home to a number of cherished Bedouin communities. Starting April 9th, Musicians without Borders will be hosting a Music Leadership Training Workshop for kindergarten teachers from all over South Hebron. This training is intended to benefit the Bedouin community, who according to a recent UN report are “particularly vulnerable to displacement and dispossession.1

For more information we encourage you to read the following UN-report concerning these precious communities:

Bedouin communities in general are particularly vulnerable to displacement and dispossession. Eighty per cent of them live in the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea area and around Hebron, constituting the majority of the population in closed military training and firing zones. Many of these communities have already experienced multiple displacements. Many are food insecure, do not have access to basic services, and are not connected to the electricity grid, the road network or water systems. More than 90 per cent face water scarcity, living with less than one-quarter of the minimum standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).2 The Israeli army routinely demolishes their shelters and property, including those provided by or built with the assistance of aid agencies and international donors. In the South Hebron hills, eight villages are at risk of eviction to make way for a new firing zone.3

Through the gracious donation of the UN and their partners, this community now has something very special in their possession, a newly donated kindergarten building. This is where we are welcomed to host our upcoming trainings in April.

Stay tuned to Musicians without Borders to learn more about the upcoming Music Leadership Training Workshops in Khashem al-Daraj!

 1 United Nations. 7th February 2013.
  2 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “The Humanitarian Impact of Israeli-  declared ‘Firing Zones’ in the West Bank”, August 2012, available   from
  3 United Nations. 7th February 2013.

 This blog entry is created by Kristin, an amazing volunteer from the USA. We are very lucky to have her with us for the coming months!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

We Need Music Classes!

Today I got a precious present from Mohammad, a rap workshop leader from Dheisheh refugee camp. Together with Hisham and Diya he has given ten rap workshops to a group of teenagers in his refugee camp during the last two months. In the workshops the youth learned about rap music and wrote their own rap texts. Three new songs are the result of this training and the first song has just been recorded. So what was the present I got from Mohammad? You can read it yourself...this is exactly why I love working with MwB!

Mar7ba! [hello]
I have good news. 
One song is done from Dheisheh kids and two songs are left. 
The song is amazing with great job from the kids. I think this song is special because it talks about their needs in the school and things they need, like music classes and another way in teaching from the teachers for example without screaming and in a way to develop their talents.
you'll like it when you hear it and we hope to make some changes in the schools after this song! 

Recording their song in our recording studio in Dheisheh refugee camp, with Mohammad on the left

Thank you Mohammad and all the other rap workshop leaders for your great and important work! You are amazing role models for the kids and together with them we can make the change!

We can only continue the rap program with your help. Please visit our Bandcamp site to download a song made during our project or make a donation here. Thank you!