We have now arrived home safely and are slowly adapting to being back on British soil. That last week went by so quickly! Monday to Thursday induced an array of emotions as we conducted the last sessions in Beit Sahour and Dar al Kalima schools; the children said goodbye to us and each other, as those groups can’t continue in exactly the same way. We had seen approx. 130 children every week, but there just isn’t enough time in the day for staff to continue at that level, so only the children in most need of extra music time will carry on.
Our first group at Beit Sahour were very aware of the ending, and played a sensitive, almost continuous reflective improvisation for 30 minutes. Other, younger children appeared less aware but their behaviour told us they knew something was up. The Kindergarten session was wonderful, with nearly 30 children joining it at one point, along with 3 or 4 adults.
Dar al Kalima was humming as always; we said goodbye to six groups of children, and even had time for an impromptu musical improvisation with a student who asked to sit with us as she waited to be collected early by her mother as she felt poorly. All our trainees ran a final session, and year 6 sang Ki-lay-lay as they left the room and walked up the stairs, as is their custom. The last falafel sandwich was eaten, the last feedback given, and the last 'Bye Bye' was sung. On Thursday afternoon we were invited to share the staff outing to the local YMCA for swimming, zumba, sauna and steam, which was a lovely way to finish. We ate apples and drank lemon and mint ice crush which was amazingly delicious!
Friday was a day off, so we went to Bethlehem for final bits of shopping and to pay for the ocean drum that was to be delivered. We also bought Dar al Kalima a xylophone so it could stay in the office of the social worker, along with other instruments especially for therapy.
On Friday evening at 6pm we were collected from our little white house by Beit Sahour’s deputy head, and taken to a beautiful restaurant for a farewell dinner, the filling in of questionnaires and awarding of certificates. To our delight, the entertainment for the evening was a Dabkah dance group, recent graduates from Beit Sahour school, who provided wonderful dancing and music and made us want to be part of the culture. Later, during a break in the meal, our trainees started a spontaneous singing of Ki-lay-lay around the table, to include management staff who’ve never been to a music session at all! It was a good evening, with everyone having an opportunity to speak about their feelings on the project, receiving certificates and cards we had made each person (with their own photo on the front, playing instruments in music sessions) and a message of thanks for their hard work and commitment inside. We in turn were given presents from all three schools and the church – olive wood nativity scenes, an embroidered bag each, painted mugs and candles to name a few!
Saturday was spent organising and packing, with a lovely lunch at a friend’s house to make the day more cheerful. In the evening we had plans to go out, but a heavy cold knocked Hazel out of the running, so Teleri flew solo and enjoyed one final evening of dancing and Arabic music. On Sunday morning we re-packed (bags too heavy!) and said final, rather emotional goodbyes before being picked up by our airport taxi. Having recovered a mislaid passport, and experiencing a rather thorough security check, we finally departed Palestine at half seven on Sunday evening.
We were sad to leave but hope to be back for the next phase of the project in the Spring..... Inshallah!
Team Beit Sahour