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!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Samba Fever

For the past two months, Mark, who volunteered to teach samba, has trained six different groups in al-Wallajah, al-Ma'sara, Hebron, Aida refugee camp, Silwan and a group of deaf people. Some groups received workshops twice a week, others, like Silwan just started playing and are waiting for a new trainer. Because after two months of drumming, Mark went home. These days he is editing a video clip of his latest project in Palestine: two rappers from Dheisheh refugee camp recorded a song with four drummers from al-Wallajah. Coming soon!

Thank you Mark for all your patience, understanding, teaching and facilitating the workshops!

"It's has been nearly two months since I arrived in the West Bank, with some drum sticks, a head full of rhythms and few Arabic words as part of a Musicians without Borders project that aims to bring samba percussion to Palestinian groups of young adults. Samba being suited for group drumming as it is very inclusive. Individuals can play a simple pattern but be part of a complex and beautiful rhythm that makes it impossible not to swing your hips or tap your feet to.
Samba workshop for the deaf in Aida Youth Center in Aida refugee camp
I had lot's of ambition to teach different styles of drumming, to give the four different groups a large 'repertoire' but also to sow the seeds for ongoing bands. The reality has been of course much more difficult. It has been eye opening to see the everyday realities of lives under Occupation affect the workshops, which at times have been cancelled due to killings, protests, checkpoint delays and today because of tear gas in and around the community center.

Surdo, the big Brazilian drum, means deaf because the sound is
so low and loud that even deaf people can 'hear' it. Abdullah is deaf and definitely proves that he can feel the rhythm!

Samba fun in al-Wallajah
Fabienne and Ahmad from Musicians without Borders and also the participants of the different groups, have been amazing in regards to helping me settle in and to deal with any of these arising issues. By now I have run many workshops with five different groups, from villages to refugee camps to youth centers. It is great to see the rhythms that in the first weeks were impossible for many have now been played in front of audiences cheering and dancing. But the greatest moments are when you see the faces of concentration slowly relaxing into a smile, when the drummers start to enjoy the rhythm and their input into it.

Learning a new rhythm on the caixa in al-Wallajah

Learning a new rhythm on the surdo in al-Wallajah

Still lot's to do before I go and I hope to also take away a rhythm or two taught to me by the participants. Whilst some of the groups might need more samba trainers, local or international, to come, I am hopeful that at least two of the bands have enough samba fever to continue learning by themselves."