We were in the middle of the Music Summer School led by our partners Sounds of Palestine, and Fida* was late. While her six to seven year old friends were playing ‘ihna mabsuteen’ on their small cellos, Fida’s chair was empty. When she finally arrived, she took her cello, sat down, and joined the song. After the cello group lesson she played in the orchestra, danced dabke (Palestinian folklore) and sang in the choir. Only when it was time for her one-on-one lesson, I managed to ask her why she hadn’t left her house earlier that morning. I supposed she had been lazy, going to bed too late, waking up too late. But she told me that she had actually left her house very early. Not really believing her, I asked her how she could be half an hour late if she had left the house that early. “Because Miss, I went with my family to the court to find out about my brother, the Israeli army took him from our house in the middle of the night….”
Our music sessions can provide a safe space for children like Fida to express themselves, particularly when they experience fear or uncertainty in situations like the one she described.
*Fida is not her real name.
Fabienne van Eck is the project manager and music coach of Palestine Community Music, and gives music workshops in refugee camps, isolated villages and hospitals. Since 2012, Fabienne is the artistic director of Sounds of Palestine, a project for children in refugee camps that combines music and social work.