On February 23, Music&Resilience’s team went to Padua, in Pedro’s Social Center, to talk about art and music as a form of resistance, in relation to our project that has been going on in Lebanon for ten years, within the Palestinians refugee camps.
The evening also hosted the stories of past projects, such as Gaza is Alive, an initiative that brought the study and practice of Hip Hop to the Gaza Strip in 2019; and the presentation of the books “No sleep till Shengal” by Zerocalcare and “La Montagna sola. The Ezidis and the democratic autonomy of Sengal” by Chiara Cruciati and Rojbîn Berîtan.
Talking about revolutions, experiments and struggles that otherwise would not be heard opens the gaze to those parts of the world that have so much to tell and to teach. Talking about resilience and liberation is the first step for transforming solidarity into a concrete gesture and creating an intertwining between the different experiences that come together.
On September 24th the 3rd Mediterranean Music Therapy Meeting took place in Padua, a conference organized by the “Giovanni Ferrari” music therapy school of Padua, in which music therapy professionals from the Mediterranean area met to discuss the topic “musical spaces in music therapy, between the analog and digital world“.
Alberto Balducci of Music & Resilience was invited to speak at the conference, where he presented a speech entitled “Did COVID matter for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon?“. In his speech, Alberto introduced the Music & Resilience project and summarized the history of the Palestinian refugee community in Lebanon, describing its current situation and the activities carried out by M&R in 2021-2022, highlighting the use of the internet as a tool to maintain and strengthen human and musical bonds when it was not possible to travel due to the pandemic.
Alberto also invited the audience to reflect on the meaning of isolation, lack of resources, confinement in small spaces, situations of high toxic stress, etc. that shaped our lives during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 epidemic and how they can in fact be compared, to some extent, to the daily living conditions in the Palestinian refugee community (with the notable difference that the current situation in the camps has been going on for 74 years). From a personal point of view, for Alberto the experiences lived over the years with his Palestinian friends in the M&R project were fundamental to fully understand (and therefore also to face) the situation of the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns: the Palestinian community in Lebanon has been a great teacher of resilience for all of us.
The 2022 Summer Camp was a great success, with 2 full weeks of music making and fun for around 80 children and adolescents from the camp communities of Beddawi, Ein Elhilweh and Baalbek, together with PM’s team of 10 volunteers, between professional musicians, music therapists, journalists and student trainees.
Special thanks to the project’s main sponsor Taawon, and to the many private supporters who responded to our crowdfunding appeal.
PM has just held the Orientation week-end for the Italian team who will support the 2022 M&R Summer Camp, which will take place during the first 2 weeks in August, involving over 100 children and students from the Palestinian camp communities. The final concert will be in Baalbek on Saturday 13th August.
We need help with the airfares for our team of 10 teachers and students.
Prima Materia is ready to go with the new Summer Program after two years of COVID-induced prohibitions. Two members of our team (Deborah & Alberto) are completing the field visit to all the centers involved in Music & Resilience for planning details and also training where possible.
We were never let alone by our dear friend and colleague Mohammad Orabi who is now General Project Coordinator for Assumoud (our boss! thank you Mohammad for doing a great job).
We also had important strategic meetings with the Assumoud management and our trusted sponsor Taawon, whom we thank as always for its continuous support for the project.
2 members of the team, Chiara Trapanese and Marco Lolli, were back in Lebanon for a week last December, running workshops with the Community Music groups in the Assumoud centres of Eni Elhilweh (Saida) and Beddawi (Tripoli).
The workshops consolidated the developments of our new online support project for the CM students and their local teachers.
The visit also served to transport a digital piano donated in Italy to the Ein Elhilweh centre – our heartfelt thanks to the donor – this will make a world of difference to the students!
On 10-11 November 2021, we were invited to present our projects in Madrid, during the 6th Conference organized by AEOS (the Spanish Association of Symphony Orchestras) under the title: “AVANTI: a future full of music!”
Our representative, Deborah Parker, participated in a round table on the theme: “Education, Diversity and Transformation”, contributing to the discussion with documentation and reflections from our work in Lebanon and from the MARS online resources.
The video documentation of Deborah’s presentation is available HERE.
For the last part of this year’s activities in Lebanon of the Music & Resilience project, Alberto and Chiara worked three days in the El Jalil refugee camp in Baalbek, in the Bekaa valley.
Music & Resilience was the first musical project in this camp, and it started its activities here in 2017: during these years, we have brought some musical instruments (mainly pitched and unpitched percussions), carried out musical psychosocial activities for large groups of children (about 50 every year) and offered training for the staff of the Assumoud center which hosts both us and the activities.
This year we picked up the project from where we left it, frozen by the long lockdowns due to the presence of the COVID virus. To this we must obviously add that Baalbek experiences the same difficulties as the rest of Lebanon, with a shortage of fuel, electricity, medicines …
But all this cannot stop the music! All the planned activities were carried out, involving no less than 50 children divided into three age groups. In the afternoon, two hours were dedicated each day to a workshop with teachers and peer educators, to pass on musical skills useful for continuing the work during the rest of the year. More than half of the peer educators present this year are young people who in the last years have been part of our morning groups, and who now voluntarily carry out support activities to run these same groups. This means that there is a splendid continuity of fruition and training, where those who have personally experienced psychosocial musical activities wish to be trained in this way in order to continue their work. All of this is an evolution in perfect Community Music style: a process that enriches an entire community through music.
The next steps for this center concern making instrumental formation operational, with local music teachers and group music. The dreams are many, and in the next few years there will be a lot of work (and a lot of music!) to be done. We can’t wait!
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!
Despite extremely hard life conditions here in Lebanon, within the context of a constantly worsening economic situation, THE MUSIC MUST GO ON!
Prima Materia is leading a 3-week program of follow-up for music therapy, community music and psychosocial music support, together with Assumoud, in the centres located in Beirut, Saida and Baalbek.
The photos show workshops in the Eine Elhilweh Assumoud centre with 50 students, some of whom are now working as peer-to-peer teachers for the younger children.
The socio-economic context – the entire country is without electricity for most of each day, without gas or petrol, and with the local currency devalued to a fourteenth of its value 2 years ago – has thrown Assumoud into its worst condition ever.
We are happy and honoured to be here beside our Palestinian friends, and determined to maintain our friendship, and to support the development of music resources to help the younger generation grow with some fun, satisfaction and hope for the future.
Thank you to all our supporters, in particular to Taawon Lebanon for the continued sponsorship of “Music and Resilience”.