Psychosocial activities and teachers training in Baalbek

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!

Rock ‘n roll in Saida!

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!

Lebanon, August 2021

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”.

Support to Palestinian refugee Community. New article published about Music Therapy programme in Lebanon.

Music and Resilience team is announcing the publication of a new peer-reviewed article resulting from the experience of Music Therapy work in Lebanon.

The article “Music therapy as a protection strategy against toxic stress for Palestinian refugee children in Lebanon” is published by the international journal ‘Approaches‘ in a very hard time for the Palestinian community, which is suffering yet another disproportionate attack by Israeli military forces in the Gaza Strip as well as racist oppression in Jerusalem, Israeli cities and in the Occupied Territories.

The article witnesses the ten-year commitment that the Prima Materia association, together with laudable social and academic partners, has addressed in support of the Palestinian community in the refugee camps of Lebanon, after 73 years of diaspora and confinement. Findings discussed in the article indicate that music therapy had a positive effect on the children’s emotional and social functioning. Music Therapy stands out as an effective therapeutic method in lowering anxiety levels in children suffering from the effects of stress and trauma, and in strengthening their self-esteem and sense of agency, thus contributing to the development of their resilience.

“Music and Resilience” article preview!

We are delighted to present the preview of the peer-reviewed article, “Adjusting the Pitch” written by key members of the M&R project team, Deborah Parker, Dario Gentili, Henry Brown and Alberto Balducci, which has been accepted by the international journal Voices, for publication in July 2021.

Structured as an ethnographic exploration of action learning, the article narrates and analyses the project’s developments and transformations during its first 8 years, considering both its successes and challenges.

“Voices” are given to the Palestinian, Italian and Lebanese children, students, teachers and healthcare professionals involved, through both their words within the text and the inclusion of 4 substantial videos, illustrating the key actions of the project.

M&R is contextualized within the Lebanese geopolitical situation and the condition of Palestinian refugees in this context is discussed. The article focuses on the project coordinators’ ability to “adjust the pitch”, thus modifying actions and methods in response to the constantly changing, contingent situation.

Finally back to Lebanon!

After 9 months of waiting and hoping, at last it is possible to travel to Lebanon again. From 11th to 21st December 2020, with the support of Montespertoli council and Città Metropolitana Firenze, and on behalf of the PM M&R coordination team, Deborah Parker will lead a 10-day program of monitoring, evaluation, training and supervision, together with Assumoud, in all the localities where project actions take place: Beirut, Beddawi, Saida and Baalbek.

During these months of covid restrictions, with no group activities in the Assumoud centres, PM has offered distance support, including online supervision for the music therapy team.

The visit will be used for strategic planning of actions in 2021, in particular regarding the recuperation of community and psychosocial music workshops, as soon as the covid crisis permits.

The visit also provides an opportunity for gathering narrations directly from the Palestinian refugee community regarding present-day life conditions, due not only to the sanitary crisis, but also to the prolonged economic and political chaos of the host country.

On Monday 28th December at 18:00 hours, these witness accounts will form the basis of an online conference for the local Italian community, thus maintaining awareness in one of the project’s main partner populations.

This project action is sponsored by the comune di Montespertoli and the Città Metropolitana di Firenze – our thanks for this support!

Overview of activities M&R 18-19 – New video online

The video presentation of the Music and Resilience 2018-19 project is online: an overview of the activities we have done during the eighth year of the project. The activities took place in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon in collaboration with the local partner Beit Atfal Assumoud and thanks to the support of Taawon Lebanon. Video by Dario Gentili.
https://youtu.be/zXta5blclU4

Planning for 2020

Community music meeting in Saida with Tareq (student rep), Nasser (music teaacher) Deborah, and Ibtissam (coordinator)

PM coordinator Deborah Parker is completing a 10-day visit to Assumoud and the centers where M&R is active, for follow-up, monitoring and planning meetings for 2020.

Unfortunately, the road closures caused by the civil demonstrations against political corruption have made travelling up North to Beddawi center impossible, but all other scheduled meetings, in Baalbek, Beirut and Saida were able to take place.

The project is “healthy and kicking”; it’s tendencies towards growth continue to challenge us to maintain quality and ensure sustainability.

On this last point, a very fruitful meeting was held with Welfare Association Lebanon, main sponsor of M&R, in which support for M&R was confirmed and preparations for a 3-year strategy plan (2020-2022) were discussed.

M&R at the 6th World Forum on Music, Paris October 2019

Alberto Balducci (PM) and Silja Fischer (IMC) with the M&R poster

Here I am in Paris, to represent the Music & Resilience project at the 6th World Forum on Music organised by the International Music Council. The forum just wrapped up a couple of hours ago and I am quite overwhelmed by the massive amount of ideas & great vibes shared with kindred spirits from all around the world who share our same vision in music as a tool for social change!

we were showing a big poster explaining the M&R project (among the others who won, like us, the 5 Music Rights Award in the past) and I managed to set several hearts on fire about M&R, so we might expect some new volunteers soon! (and my own little heart was sent in flames as well a couple of times…)

Many thanks to all the friendly people from all the corners of the world who proved diversity and freedom are what makes us human deep inside.
NO MUSIC NO LIFE!

Alberto