For more than 70 years of occupation, the Palestinian people have faced systematic oppression and violence. Poverty, violence and an absence of infrastructure and services define daily life. The marginalization of vulnerable groups of women, children and refugees have left people isolated.
Bara’em Ghirass responds to the urgent need for life-affirming, creative opportunities for children and communities. We partner with the Ghirass Cultural Center in Bethlehem, providing music activities for children and support for families, with a strong focus on gender equality and heritage.
Bara’em Ghirass offers a weekly music program for children and youth from the Bethlehem district, including refugee camps and isolated villages. At the Ghirass Cultural Center, children receive music instrument lessons, music and movement workshops, play in ensembles, and sing in choirs.
Bara’em Ghirass (براعم غراس) means ‘buds of (tree)saplings’, symbolizing hope and growth. The introduction of a music program — accessible to all regardless of artistic talent, prior training or experience — increases the self-esteem of participants, empathy for the other and the chance to be an active and contributing member of the community.
Gender equality and heritage
The project has a strong focus on gender rights and equality and seeks especially to empower girls and their mothers. The project also includes traditional Arabic music and instruments, strengthening children’s awareness of their cultural heritage and increasing knowledge and pride in their own traditions. Performances of the children’s and teacher’s music making are used as an opportunity to share their culture with their family and community.
Music Mother’s meetings
In addition to the children’s program, Bara’em Ghirass organizes regular music meetings for mothers of participating children, providing a safe space to reduce stress and offer them to experience the benefits of music making firsthand. Through creative music making, listening and moving to music, we explore feelings, thoughts and emotions, and support each other throughout this process.
Ghirass Cultural Center
Ghirass Cultural Center is an educational, cultural and leisure center that gives the children of Bethlehem district a safe place to learn, play, meet friends, develop and grow into young adults. The Center is affiliated with Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation.
The Center was established in 1994 for two main reasons:
- The need for a safe place to learn and play became apparent during the first Intifada (uprising against the Israeli occupation) when children became the innocent victims of the closure of schools and curfews.
- Ghirass also responded to the lack of cultural education in schools. The Center recognized the importance of giving the children of Bethlehem an opportunity to learn their traditional music, dance and handicrafts and to gain knowledge of Palestinian culture, history, literature and ecology.