An article published by the UNHCR recently estimated that there are “7.6 million” (UNHCR: 2012, 2) people who have been displaced from their homes because of conflict and civil unrest. Out of this 7.6 million people only just over 1% are hosted by the UK. The refugees are usually not really supported by the government however; there are a variety of smaller non-governmental organizations around the UK that recognise the trauma, loss and hard ship these people go through.
This is where the organization that I am currently doing my placement at comes in. MWB were established in 2010 as an independent charity, to support individuals that have been affected by war and armed conflict through music. In the UK MWB runs a variety of projects aimed predominantly at refugees and asylum seekers such as a project called Stone Flowers (which supports people who have been through torture in their home countries by giving them the opportunity to tell their story through music) They arrange recitals, Music for Health workshops with refugees/asylum seekers and refugee awareness workshops. Whilst doing my placement at MWB I had the opportunity to have a great insight and first-hand experience into how a charity organization runs behind the scenes. My supervisor Lis Murphy (UK director of MWB) and Nick Jones (UK finance and development manager) were always very patient, friendly and helpful explaining things clearly. I had the opportunity to learn how to apply for funds and assist with the planning of a project, time tabling, coordinating, recruiting volunteers, advertising, drawing up contracts and a lot of other small details that make the biggest difference. The project is known as Rainbow Haven Singing project. It is a music workshop that is held for the refugees and asylum seekers that attend the rainbow haven centre in Salford and East Manchester. The projects aims to bring people together from many different communities such as Eritrea, South Sudan, North Sudan, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Congo and many more places to find a common ground through music. The participants are asked to choose the music from their countries or any music that they enjoy really and then the music coordinators teach the rest of the group how to sing it. (Currently there is a list of about seven songs that the participants are learning and will perform on the 20th of June for refugee week. (Malaika (Swahili) by Miriam Makeba, Aicha (French & Arabic) by Khaled. Etc) It is amazing to witness how music has the power to cross social, cultural, language, political and geographical borders. As the project has progressed I have got to witness how the participants have come out of their shells each week and levels of confidence have risen. To be part of planning something and see it grow it a really amazing opportunity than would not have happened otherwise.
I really enjoyed the placement, not only was it a humbling experience witnessing people’s stories but it taught me a lot about the issues refugees face on a daily basis because of the stereotype image portrayed by the media and the different ways the charity sectors try tackling these hurdles whether it is directly or indirectly. I am grateful for the opportunity and cannot think of any down side.
- Musicians Without Borders. (2014).MWB. Available: http://www.musicianswithoutborders.org/#projects. Last accessed 21/05/2014.
- UNHCR. (2012). Displacement: The New 21st Century Challenge. Available: http://www.unhcr.org.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/UNHCR_Global_Trends_2012.pdf. Last accessed 21/05/2014.