During the second week of January, HLT in cooperation with MwB organized a training week for eight young Palestinians. For five days, they received four hours a day of Samba drum training and fours hours of Nonviolence training.
During the Samba training, given by Musicians without Borders trainer Sherwin Kirindongo, the group learned how to play the different drums and rhythms, to listen to each other, and to lead a drum group. We chose for Samba drums instead of the regular marching drums, because Samba has a more positive and uplifting sound.
At the beginning of the first Nonviolence workshop, given by Saqer Sleiman, most participants were hesitant and not very enthusiastic about the subject, because they felt Nonviolence had to do with 'giving up' or 'being a coward'. But after the workshop, in which they discussed what Nonviolence actually means, they all changed their opinion 180 degrees: they realized that using Nonviolent direct action can be an empowering and positive tool to change a situation.
Four Drum Groups
The participants came from four different areas: al-Walajah, Um Salamona, Dheisheh refugee camp, and al-Azzeh refugee camp. In every area two leaders will form a Samba drum group with people from their own community. During the training, every group created an action plan in which the vision and goals of their drum group was described, as well as the target group and more practical issues like the place were they will rehearse and store the drums. The drum groups will perform during different occasions, including Nonviolent demonstrations against the Wall, festive community events, and activities for youth and children.
Samba & Nonviolence Melting Together
At the last training day, the Nonviolence and drum training melted together when the group learned how to combine chanting and drumming. They were encouraged to use Arabic rhythms next to the Samba rhythms, in order to empower their own musical culture.
The following text was written by Muhammad, one of the participants from al-Walajah:
my name is Muhammad al Atrash and I am from al walajah. I am 19 years old and I studied in Ramallah in the Faculty of Science and Technology, specializing in airconditioning and cooling. I am an activist in the weekly events against the wall, and I came here for one week with Holy Land Trust to learn what is nonviolence and how to apply it in the villages of the Walaja area and to learn to play drums and use nonviolence to achieve what we want. We want to have a positive influence on people. Because our problems are not with people but with the Israeli government. I hope to benefit from this activity and I hope also that people will read this and understand that nonviolent can be applied in all places. And many thanks and appreciation to those in charge of this program and the coaches and the supporting hand.