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VIDEO: Children in Bethlehem find peace through music

Disadvantaged children in Aida refugee camp use musical education as a creative outlet and distraction from the omnipresent signs of occupation
(Screenshot/ Jordan Woodgate)
 
In Aida Refugee Camp, children suffer from innumerable effects of the occupation, "All these create different psychological reactions" Ahmad, the Sounds of Palestine manager tells Middle East Eye, "like being hyperactive, wetting their beds at night, not concentrating in the school.” 
 
Working in Aida and 'Azza Camps, Sounds of Palestine provides music teachers and social workers to give children a safe place, support and musical inspiration. At an early age the children are introduced to string and percussion instruments, one of which they choose to learn. 
 
Currently 180 kindergarten children receive weekly music lessons and another 100 children receive several weekly lessons which include instrument lessons, dabke lessons, choir, music theory lessons and orchestra. 
 
Mustafa and Athal are light-hearted nine-year-old students who play the cello and the violin with the programme. They are evidently at ease with their instruments, and relish the environment, “Music gives us a wonderful feeling” Mustafa declares. 
 
The programme, inspired and based on the concept of El Sistema in Venezuela, has proven to be successful in more than 25 countries. The children “are being given the opportunity to perceive life better.” says Ahmad, “We have seen their improved achievement and behaviour, and they are more secure with motivation for life." 
 
Ultimately, Sounds of Palestine aims to achieve long term social change for the children and families in the refugee camps. "We want this to spread out in wider life of Palestine” explains Ahmad, "and every Palestinian should be able to receive this program."