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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
August 14, 2013 •• Palestine Community Music
Who Says Girls Don’t Rap?

Certainly not us.

This summer, rap workshop leaders Mohammed and Diya have been conducting rap workshops for Musicians without Borders; their group is exclusively for females. This group of approximately a dozen girls, all between the ages 9 and 14, is from Deheisheh and Aida refugee camps.

Summer is an especially great time to present an activity for girls, as they typically spend a lot of time helping in their homes during the summer holidays. But now they have a new item for their summer agendas; after hearing Mohammed rap, a group of girls requested to learn how to rap. That wish was granted. Mohammed commented, “We give them the opportunity to do music, write things, and create things…these girls really do have stories to tell.”

But before one hears the stories, one can hear this group by their loud fits of lighthearted laughter that escape the workshop room. And though their youthfulness brings a lot of fun to rap workshops, their purpose there is crystal clear- they attend in order to learn and explore their passion. I asked one participant, why she enjoys partaking in the rap workshops. With a smile but without hesitation, she replied: ” Well, I just really like rap.”

I did not doubt her answer for a split second- for the evidence of her interest, as well as the interest of all of the participants, was apparent immediately upon entering the workshop. Many of the girls arrived early- ready to rap. Mohammed said, “You feel that they are coming to the workshop to do something. The girls come with a goal they want to achieve.”

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However, while observing the introduction activity, shyness seemed to set the mood. Still, it did not halt a select few from leading their peers by accepting the challenge to free-style a few lines about themselves. For the rest of the girls who were a bit too bashful, they did not allow their shyness stop them from writing their rhymes. Once the leaders excused the girls to write a text, they rushed the pens and papers and swiftly composed an original verse.

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Excited to share her artistic lyrics, one participant eagerly showed me the lyrics she wrote. Although I couldn’t read a single word of the Arabic lyrics, my disappointment was short lived. Within seconds, she was singing her rap with rhythm and elation. With the positive energy demonstrated by this sweet music student, I could see why the Musicians without Borders Music Coach and Holy Land Trust Nonviolence Trust recently took these girls out for a special outing.

Musicians without Borders recently treated all of these hard-working young ladies to a special night at Hosh il-yasmin, an organic farm in the hills of Beit Jalla. Here, they explored nature, enjoyed dinner, and played music games. This night of fellowship and fun took place on the last day of Ramadan, an excellent way to celebrate iftar as well as each one of these talented girls.

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By Kristin Rose