To explore the feasibility of introducing music and dance into therapeutic work with women suffering of war trauma, Musicians without Borders implemented a pilot project in October 2009. In coordination with Snaga Žene, based in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, MwB’s female vocal ensemble and two Bosnian female music professionals worked for a week with women in the Snaga Žene House in Tuzla, in two refugee settlements, in the village of Potočari and in the town of Srebrenica. Responses from the women, even those most impacted by traumatic events, were overwhelmingly positive. Professional therapists from Snaga Žene were surprised by the strong and positive effect of the guided movement and singing activities on the women. The pilot project was sponsored by individual donors and MwB; local organizational support was provided by Snaga Zene.
In February 2010, MwB trainer and dance therapist Vincenta Besteman returned to Tuzla. She and music teacher/ choir director Lejla Mulaosmanović worked with a group of 7 women who had volunteered to participate in the project as choir singers. The volunteers were all themselves survivors of Srebrenica, had been through therapy with the Snaga Žene program and had participated in MwB workshops in October 2009. They were eager to reach out to other women who had suffered similar experiences, but had not yet had the same opportunities to process their grief.
Following these two pilot projects, there has been a demand from the women in SZ’s in-house program to sing in a choir. These women (mostly city women who are farther in their process of dealing with the war trauma than the women in the camps) also want to sing with/ for the women in the camps. MwB workshop leader and choir director Almerisa Delic, based in Tuzla, has also expressed interest in working with MwB for the project.
Finally, at the beginning of 2013, MwB has managed to secure the funding to return in Tuzla for this 1-year project – From Woman to Woman – that builds upon these earlier achievements, working with a women-led organization and local musicians to create therapeutic settings and shared musical experiences.