Thursday, August 25, 2011

"If You Can Sing Together, You Can Live Together"

Today no pictures of smiling children dancing and singing...

Three MwB trainees traveled with nonviolence trainer Ahmad from HLT to Austria to take part in a project of the Austrian NGO 5 Colours 1 World.

Together with the other participants, they represented eight different countries: Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, The Netherlands, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania, and of course Palestine. Ahmad gave training in nonviolence while the trainees performed rap during the final event and gave a workshop in body percussion. In addition to training in filming and editing, they received also training in subjects such as discrimination, stereotypes, gender, nonviolent transformation of conflicts, racism and xenophobia.

During this training, it was the first time that music workshop leaders from Palestine could meet their colleagues from Bosnia-Herzegovina. They have expressed their wish to meet and cooperate again in the future.

You can watch the inspiring short videos that were made by the participants on the following links:

The website of Peace Dialogue published an article about the project that you can read here.

Thank you so much for everyone who made this project possible, especially Stuart Jolley and Gregory Kennedy-Salemi. I'm incredibly proud of our Palestinian team and can't wait to see what other beautiful things they will create in the future!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rap Across the Wall on TV!

"Russia Today" made an item about the rap project Rap Across the Wall. Children from Silwan and Dheisheh and al-Azzeh refugee camp learned how to write rap songs and recorded the songs in the professional studio of PNN (Palestine News Network).

This project is supported by MwBHLTPNN and Prelude Foundation

Friday, August 19, 2011

Colorful Music in a Refugee Camp

In July, the Dutch Fanfare van de Eerste Liefdesnacht paid a visit to a MwB/HLT project in the smallest refugee camp in Palestine: al-Azzeh refugee camp, next to Bethlehem. They gave a music workshop for many children from Dheisheh and al-Azzeh refugee camp in which the children got to know the exciting instruments of the music group and played rhythms together. After the workshop, the children and musicians walked together through the streets of al-Azzeh camp in a colorful musical parade.

Thank you so much to all the musicians, workshop leaders and others that made this day successful!

Thank you for all the beautiful pictures Bernice Siewe, Laurence Ranson, and Peter van der Pouw Kraan

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sponge Bob in Bethlehem

We were invited to give a music workshop for a Ramadan night celebration in the SOS-village in Bethlehem. Unfortunately not all orphaned children that live in the SOS-village have family that they can go to during the summer. But the SOS staff has been doing everything possible to make the long summer for these children fun and enjoyable. One of the activities was an evening of entertainment, including a local theater and lots of balloons. 

Two hours before the event started, my cellphone rang. "Is there any chance you can come dressed up as Sponge Bob?" First I blamed my poor Arabic for not understanding the organizer well. "You mean if I can sing a song about Sponge Bob?" I tried. "No, we would like you to wear a Sponge Bob costume." Aha. "I'm very sorry but I don't have one." "What about your colleagues?" I thought about Seereen and Amira who were going to join me in the workshop, and imagining them in a Sponge Bob suit made me smile. "I'm terribly sorry but none of us can dress up as Sponge Bob. We can sing and dance with the children and that's it!"

Two hours later, we arrived at the event. For one and a half hours (!) the children were involved in a wonderful interactive music-theater show with the local star Khalid Massou. They had lots of fun and we wondered if the children would have any energy left for our workshop later...When we thought it would be our turn, a special guest suddenly arrived on the stage: it was Sponge Bob himself! All I could think of was how the organizer managed to find a SpongeBob in the two hours after she had called me.

Finally it was our turn. We did some music activities, danced, sang, and just before we wanted to start our last activity, suddenly all children ran away. What happened? Did we do something wrong? Did the children have enough from all the dancing and singing activities? I looked around me to see if maybe something might have frightened them, but there was nothing to see except of the sound men who seemed relieved that they could finally go home.

The organizer walked to us and apologized: they had set up a big air castle around the corner and someone announced it to the kids. Our workshop could not compete with the air castle and that was completely fine: although there was maybe an overdose of activities tonight, we only saw happy children faces!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Music in Qalqiliyah!

The following story about a workshop day in Qalqiliyah area is written by Sylvia, a wonderful volunteer that spent one month with MwB in Palestine. She joined us during the music workshops, taught guitar to some of the trainees and helped us where ever needed!

A hired car with blazing airco; Fabienne is driving us to Qalqilyah while Seereen, one of the trainees, is trying to understand and passes on the instructions given to her through the phone. “Go straight!” seems to be the main message, though this is hardly possible with hills making the roads twist and turn, roadblocks abruptly ending highways, roundabouts and bifurcations forcing us to pick our choice. After quite a detour we finally arrive where we want to be: just outside Qalqilya, the road takes us to a gated building, children pouring out on the street to see us arriving.

The older boys laugh and scream; Amira (the other trainee with us today) is a bit intimidated and says to Fabienne: “You take that group first, we'll work with the younger group!” “No, let Sylvia take the older group and us the younger one” Fabienne jokes! But before I can get scared of this prospect, I am distracted by everything around me.
The children in the younger group are curious but also shy and waiting in anticipation. But before we can go to them, we have to drink coffee and eat a cake. This, apparently, is far more important than releiving the children from their exitement, so we have to abide to the customs. 

Then we can enter the rooms. The older boys are in one, the younger children (boys and girls) are in another room. These are all children who have been abused or neglected; they are in good care now but they are mentally deeply scarred.

The music activities prooved to be a great outlet for them. First I went with Seereen and Amira to the younger children. It took a while to gain their trust and full participation, but after a while even the boy who at first stayed outsid the door watching us joined in clapping and ticking with the sticks. The older boys were totally different. They were active, excited, wanted to do everything at once. To Amira's surprise their enthusiasm made it a very nice and exiting experience to work with them.

After a lot of games, singing, and laughing with all the children we had to say goodbye, and they followed us outside to the care to wave us goodbye. “I love you! We will miss you, bye!” the boys shouted after us. The small girls waved, kissed us and shook our hands, and off we went on a confusing trip back home to Bethlehem, trying our best to keep straight.