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Last month, I was in a refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over a thousand people living in containers behind a fence, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. About half of the thousand people living there are children, 300 of which are unaccompanied – without their parents or family.

Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the final stop of the so-called Balkan route, where refugees get stranded on the borders of a European Union that doesn’t want them. In a country that has barely recovered from its own war, I saw great compassion for the new refugees looking for safety, but few resources to accommodate them.

As someone who has been following our work, you know how music can be a lifeline. In places that still suffer the effects of war and conflict, music is vital. We started our work 22 years ago in refugee camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Together with local musicians, we brought music back into the lives of thousands of displaced children.

In 2021 we returned there, working with old friends and familiar Bosnian organizations, to support the displaced children living there now.

This is just one example of our ongoing work this year.

New developments in 2021

  • We launched Al-Musiqa Tajm’ana in Jordan, sharing our music leadership methodology with local musicians who use it to support vulnerable and underserved children and women,
  • We started another new program: Bara’em Ghirass in Palestine, providing musical activities in Ghirass Cultural Center in Bethlehem,
  • We laid the groundwork for a relaunch of Welcome Notes, our program for children and youth in refugee camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What we achieved in 2021

  • We reached 3,354 unique participants with 5,183 music making activities in our programs in El Salvador, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, Palestine, and Rwanda,
  • We trained 453 participants as music leaders, band coaches, and teachers,
  • We organized the Music Leadership Summit, our first in-person training since the start of the pandemic,
  • We recorded over 20 online concerts, livestreams and music videos, like the MRS sessions, Uwanjye by Rwanda Youth Music, and Nastasia Y’s set for Worldwide Music Day.

Our goal for 2022

Our long-term programs around the world continued successfully this year. This wouldn’t have been possible without your support, for which we’re very grateful.

But we miss the moments of connection. The summer camps, training weeks, community music sessions, live concerts, rap workshops… Our goal for 2022 is to bring these back.

To support these crucial moments where people connect through music, we have launched a fundraising campaign to #BringBackMusic. Please help us meet our goal by supporting our work today.

Thank you,

Laura Hassler

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