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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
June 7, 2014 •• Palestine Community Music
Music Workshops for Children with Special Needs

In April, one of Musicians without Borders’ trainees Halimeh, who is deaf, followed the Music Leadership Training given by Liz Coombes, a community music therapist and Fabienne van Eck. Focus of this training week was working with children with special needs, such as autism, ADHD, deaf or blind. Liz introduced a very useful tool: a long rubber band, sewed at the end so it becomes a large circle. This band can be used to make movements together on music, and is especially helpful for children who have problems to stay seated in a circle or for blind children.

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Together with Magedah, the only Palestinian sign language interpreter in the area and an experienced Musicians without Borders trainee herself, Halimeh gave several workshops last weeks to youth with special needs and blind children. For the participants, Halimeh is an amazing role model, showing them that one can be a leader despite his or her disability.

In l’Arche (Bethlehem), the participants and staff asked her to come back and give them music workshops on a weekly or even daily basis. When Halimeh asked them why they wanted her to return, one of the participants answered:

انا كتيييييير كيفت عشان مافي عنا هون موسيقى حلوة

I enjoyed it veryyyyyy much because we don’t have beautiful music here”

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In the House of Hope, the participants were very excited to see Halimeh again: she used to give workshops here twice a week until three months ago. The institution didn’t have money anymore to pay for her transportation, so she had to stop. Halimeh was surprised to see that the group still remembered many of the songs and music activities she had done with them more than three months ago.

10419932_10152448739125797_791301080_n At the beginning of the first music workshop at the Sunrise School for the Blind, both Halimeh and Magedah were nervous, because it was their first time to work with blind children. They had done activities before with the deaf-blind community, but this asks for a very different approach from children who are only blind. They started explaining their activities and how they work in a group and they asked the children’s caretakers to participate in the workshops. After a few minutes, the interaction with the children was great, and the children started creating their own movements with the music. Magedah and Halimeh were impressed by their concentration and their capability to make sounds and movements together as one group.

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Sometimes donors require methods to proof the success of a project. I believe that the fact that all locations so far have asked for more workshops is the best indicator to know that both the participants and the institutions are benefiting!

For more pictures, please visit the photo album.

– Fabienne van Eck, project manager