Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt

We are active in these four countries in the Middle East and in the Netherlands. In Lebanon, for instance, there are 12 Palestinian camps with about 40,000 inhabitants. There’s a lot of violence in the camps, but they don’t have much else, and certainly no good education. The education which is provided is limited, and offers little creativity. Schools work in shifts which prevent children of different origins to meet and connect.

Sometimes people are not allowed to leave the camp, making it a kind of prison. The Palestinian young people that we works with in Lebanon, were born there and will die there. They have no clear future. In addition, since 2011, a million Syrian refugees have flooded into Lebanon. This gives it the highest number of refugees per inhabitant in the world. That is an enormous pressure on the local population integrating with the refugees.

All kinds of things are going on in Jordan too. There is growing extremism. This means that women have little or no freedom and there are all kinds of stigmas and value judgements that imprison people. In Palestine, young people grow up with violence and hatred every day. Life in a society like that offers very little space for vulnerability, freedom, autonomy, one’s own identity and bonding.

The power of music

We use creative music processes that make people more creative. It also awakes the understanding that there are always opportunities to create something, to build a future. Even if you grow up in a refugee camp. Or in a devastated town. In addition, making music is an important emotional escape valve. When you live in difficult circumstances and experienced traumatic events, words are not enough to express yourself. Then people need another way to deal with emotions and to find safety to talk. Music is a powerful tool to express yourself in a safe way. For instance, there was a Syrian girl in a refugee camp in Jordan who hadn’t spoken for months. She also avoided eye contact. After five days making music, she stood at the front singing. That’s how powerful music can be.