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Europe

Welcome Notes

Around the world, wars and armed violence, climate devastation and poverty have resulted in a staggering number of displaced people.

Welcome Notes is Musicians Without Borders’ response to the arrival in Europe of people seeking safety from war, poverty and climate change. We began by training musicians in the Netherlands to work with vulnerable people in asylum centers, but soon expanded to include training and pilot projects in Germany, Italy, Greece and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

From single activities bringing joy to children in refugee centers, to longer-term social inclusion projects for newcomers, the program brings the connecting power of music to the complicated issues of displacement, reception and inclusion.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

In collaboration with War Childhood Museum and Superar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we bring music and arts activities to vulnerable children in refugee camps and centers.

One of the last countries in Eastern Europe to allow refugees to pass, Bosnia and Herzegovina shares a border with the EU (Croatia). The country has become the ‘last stop’ on the Balkan route for today’s refugees fleeing wars and other disasters in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Twenty years ago, our Music Bus program brought music to vulnerable Bosnian children in ethnically divided cities, villages, and refugee settlements. Building on networks and expertise from earlier projects, Welcome Notes Bosnia and Herzegovina brings back the mobile music teams for today’s refugees.

In the Sarajevo region, musicians and facilitators lead music and art workshops for children in refugee camps. During these workshops, children have a chance to try out instruments, participate in drumming and percussion circles, experiment with singing and writing songs, and play creatively through musical and dancing games. The sessions provide a safe space for creativity and self-expression, and improve communication and connection within the group, reducing the impact of traumatic experiences of displacement.

Our teams have also brought these activities to children in the refugee camp Usivak near Sarajevo, and to Tuzla, a town in the north-eastern part of the country. The project aims to expand to more refugee camps, but because many refugees are constantly on the move—whether by choice or government policy—the project has created a mobile team that can respond flexibly as needs and opportunities arise.

Music Bus NL

Music Bus NL brings music to children, youth, and families in emergency reception centers in the Netherlands. The Netherlands sees a growing number of people arriving in the country daily, fleeing war and persecution. The country’s policy of discouragement has resulted in inadequate provisions for people on the move, and so-called ‘emergency centers are now often the first stop for those seeking refuge. Musicians Without Borders’ trained music leaders provide experiences of joy, relief, and connection for participating children and families as they await their next move.

Rap projects

In collaboration with SOS Children’s Villages in Italy and Greece, Musicians Without Borders rap trainers Manu van Kersbergen and Guus van der Steen worked with unaccompanied minors, co-creating rap songs with young people to express their hopes and dreams for the future.

Music leadership training

We train musicians in inclusive music leadership approaches especially suited to working with vulnerable (young) people experiencing displacement. In Italy, Greece, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, this has focused on work in refugee centers.

In Germany, our training programs in collaboration with Landesmusikakademie North Rhine Westphalia strengthen this center’s structural programs with local and newcomer musicians in support of social inclusion in the region.

Suzana Đorđević

Project manager Welcome Notes Bosnia and Herzegovina

Haris Abdagić

Field coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Almerisa Delic

Trainer for Bosnia and Herzegovina team

Tony Pesikan

Trainer for Bosnia and Herzegovina team

Manu van Kersbergen

Rap trainer

Guus van der Steen

Rap trainer

Amanda Koser-Gillespie

Music leadership trainer

Darren Abrahams

Music leadership trainer

Juan David Garzon

Music leadership trainer

Marion Haak-Schulenburg

Music leadership trainer

Matthias Witt

Coordinator Landesmusikakademie NRW

Filter

Music Bus NL: Interview with Eleni Christofi

July 22, 2022
This week, Musicians Without Borders interviewed Eleni Christofi, a music therapy student and guitarist originally…

How we are working in Bosnia & Herzegovina

July 21, 2022
This blog was written by Suzana Đorđević, Project manager of Welcome Notes Bosnia and Herzegovina…

Rap workshops in Athens refugee camps

December 13, 2019
Welcome Notes program manager Anna Swinkels wrote about her experiences during one of our workshops…

Established in
2016

Active in
Netherlands
Germany
Greece
Italy
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Scotland

Key partners
Landesmusikakademie NRW
Superar Bosnia and Herzegovina
War Childhood Museum

Key numbers

376

music leaders trained

2484

young displaced people reached