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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
August 17, 2011 •• Palestine Community Music
Sponge Bob in Bethlehem

We were invited to give a music workshop for a Ramadan night celebration in the SOS-village in Bethlehem. Unfortunately not all orphaned children that live in the SOS-village have family that they can go to during the summer. But the SOS staff has been doing everything possible to make the long summer for these children fun and enjoyable. One of the activities was an evening of entertainment, including a local theater and lots of balloons. 

Two hours before the event started, my cellphone rang. “Is there any chance you can come dressed up as Sponge Bob?” First I blamed my poor Arabic for not understanding the organizer well. “You mean if I can sing a song about Sponge Bob?” I tried. “No, we would like you to wear a Sponge Bob costume.” Aha. “I’m very sorry but I don’t have one.” “What about your colleagues?” I thought about Seereen and Amira who were going to join me in the workshop, and imagining them in a Sponge Bob suit made me smile. “I’m terribly sorry but none of us can dress up as Sponge Bob. We can sing and dance with the children and that’s it!”

Two hours later, we arrived at the event. For one and a half hours (!) the children were involved in a wonderful interactive music-theater show with the local star Khalid Massou. They had lots of fun and we wondered if the children would have any energy left for our workshop later…When we thought it would be our turn, a special guest suddenly arrived on the stage: it was Sponge Bob himself! All I could think of was how the organizer managed to find a SpongeBob in the two hours after she had called me.


Finally it was our turn. We did some music activities, danced, sang, and just before we wanted to start our last activity, suddenly all children ran away. What happened? Did we do something wrong? Did the children have enough from all the dancing and singing activities? I looked around me to see if maybe something might have frightened them, but there was nothing to see except of the sound men who seemed relieved that they could finally go home.

The organizer walked to us and apologized: they had set up a big air castle around the corner and someone announced it to the kids. Our workshop could not compete with the air castle and that was completely fine: although there was maybe an overdose of activities tonight, we only saw happy children faces!