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Project Beit Sahour

    Why do we work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories?

Although Music as Therapy International has no political bias, we recognise the impact that the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has on the people living there.  As Salameh Bishara, the Resource and Curriculum Development Officer at the Evangelical Lutheran Schools (ELCJHL) in Beit Sahour, explained:

"Palestinians, in general, and Palestinian children in particular are under lots of pressure due to the unstable prevailing political and financial situation. Some children are traumatized and need help psychologically and emotionally."

 

One of the most prominent obstructions appears to be the separation wall, which divides the West Bank from Israel and Jerusalem. This wall crystallises the terrible problems faced by Palestinians, in addition to the curtailing of essential resources, military checkpoints, and the human impact of living under military occupation. Our volunteer team quickly gained insight into the frustrations and tensions which pervade Palestinian existence, and thus often manifest in other areas of life, particularly through children’s behaviour at school.

 

Teleri Dyer, volunteer assistant who delivered the skill-sharing project in Beit Sahour, summed up the situation:

 

“Despite its calm and serene exterior, its core struggles to breathe as it becomes increasingly surrounded by Israeli settlements, which force residents into increasingly small, unsustainable pockets of land. Sadly, this is only one factor affecting the lives of those living within Beit Sahour, and similar towns across the West Bank.”

 

 

Introductory Training Project and Support

 In 2012, Music as Therapy International embarked upon an introductory music as therapy training project working alongside Music Therapist, Liz Coombes and volunteer Music Therapists, Hazel Child and Teleri Dyer. A six-week skill sharing project was delivered in September 2012 at ELSJHL School in Beit Sahour, the ELS Hope School in Ramallah and Dar al Kalima, a school in Bethlehem. The objectives were to deliver a sustainable and efficient music programme which would enable local staff to learn the key principles of music therapy. These newly acquired skills would then, in turn, be utilised by staff to help children explore different ways of communicating with each other, whilst also promoting self-expression through a creative medium.

 

If you would like to read more about the initial 6-week skill-sharing project in 2012 click here to read the full report.

 

In April 2013 our volunteer team, Hazel and Teleri returned to Palestine to deliver a follow-up visit and to provide support for the staff.

 

The follow up visit served as an opportunity to address any issues and challenges that staff had faced in the 6 months since they had received the initial 6-week skill-sharing project. They were able to support the staff personally by addressing any immediate challenges, as well as offering plenty of encouragement.

 

There are currently 8 members of staff running regular music as therapy sessions with the children at all 3 schools. The schools are extremely proud of their work and have not only taken steps to see it incorporated into the schools’ curriculum, but have also recently been showcasing it to international visitors (see right). As part of our continued support for our Local Partners we have created a Newsletter that will be a forum through which they can share challenges, successes and musical activities. The Newsletter has been produced in Arabic. Please click the links below if you would like to see the English and Arabic version of the recent newsletter that we shared we are our Local Partners. 

 

Music as Therapy Newsletter Arabic.pdf

Music as Therapy Newsletter English.pdf

 

Since the introductory training and the support visit we have received some positive feedback from the staff.

 

One member of staff told us:

 

“We have so many trainings as teachers, and they are all about the teacher - the planning, the lesson, the thinking, the materials - but this training was the first one that taught us how to be with children, to communicate with them, be with them and help them be more confident... It is like a mother and baby, who can talk without using words."

 

We were also delighted to receive the following feedback from one of our Local Partners about the developments she has observed in the children:

 

“The children enjoyed the sessions very much and they had favourite activities that they liked to repeat over and over. The students really enjoyed this as it was different from what they were used to, which gave them the ability to use their skills – in turn, bringing out the best in them in comparison to the other school subjects.”

 

Another teacher described how regular music sessions have impacted positively on the children’s behaviour - not just in the music sessions, but in the classroom too:

 

"...There is a noticeable change in the students’ behaviour, as some of them were able to concentrate more, grow in confidence and it helped to settle them down in the classroom.”

 

To see more pictures from project Beit Sahour please click here

 

If you would like to read the full report on the follow-up visit please click here

  

If you would like to DONATE to this project, click here