The Community Music group in Ein el Hilweh camp (Saida)

Yesterday, 13th August, Alberto and Chiara completed the first part of their work this year with the Palestinian community in diaspora in Lebanon, with three days of music in the Saida refugee camp, Ein el Hilweh.

The workshops involved a large group of children (about 30) engaged in musical and psychosocial activities, and a group of young musicians with Community Music instrumental activities (see photos above and those in the previous post). We also worked with the more experienced students, who play the role of peer educators by teaching the younger children.

There were various kinds of difficulties: from motorway blocks due to protests because of price increases and fuel shortages (on the morning of 12th August, the Lebanese people woke up to find that the cost of petrol had increased more than 3.5 times!) to the logistic issues due to running the activities inside the refugee camp (the Ein el Hilweh camp generally does not accept any visitors; you must have a special permit which is checked for entry and exit by the military stationed at the access points to the camp). And now add the heat, humidity, lack of electricity …

Despite this, the musical activities were great: lively and involved children, a group of capable and passionate peer educators, and growing musical skills. The Community Music group mastered two sections of J(okes)Tonic, a song arranged for this group of musicians by Francesca Lico, based on a piece by Louis Moholo-Moholo and Lucille by Little Richard. This is probably the first time that live rock ‘n roll has been heard in this refugee camp! But this music, of African American origin, has always been the true voice of an oppressed and marginalized minority, in an evident parallel (despite the differences in ways, times and places) with the Palestinian story. The musical result is a testimony of the human aspect of the project, and it is always moving to witness how the human soul can make such beautiful flowers bloom even in such harsh situations.

And now, Alberto and Chiara are returning to Beirut and from there to Baalbek, in the Bekaa valley, to work with their friends from the local refugee camp, El Jalil, also called Wavel. More music is on the way!