Jordan: Music to heal children’s soul

by Terre des hommes | Terre des hommes (Tdh) - Switzerland
Wednesday, 3 September 2014 11:00 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Music won’t stop a bullet or protect a child to feel hungry but it can inspire.” Syrian composer and clarinettist Kinan Azmeh played his music for Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan. He is convinced that music can improve a person’s situation or heal a soul. Terre des hommes Jordan and the artist Kinan Azmeh joined to brighten these children’s daily life as refugees, at least for a few moments.

When the revolution in Syria started back in March 2011, Kinan Azmeh asked himself “What can I do?” This Syrian rising star questioned himself about the role of art, thinking that there was no place for music in such a conflict. He even stopped composing for a year. But soon he realized that he owed it to himself to compose. “Music is an act of freedom.”

Playing music with child refugees

On a recent trip to Jordan, Kinan Azmeh met with the Syrian children, beneficiaries of Terre des hommes (Tdh) project, funded by both Tdh Germany, who initiated the visit and Swiss Solidarity. He went to Amman centre, a child-friendly space where Tdh offers recreational activities and psychological support to refugees, and also visited the northern communities of Jordan. In both places, Kinan played music with the children. He brought with him twenty flutes and his own clarinet, and started a little orchestra with all of them.

People from the centre and the host communities along with Tdh staff underlined how much his music benefited the children and thanked him for his visit. But for the clarinettist, the opposite was also true: “Being part of the community was very inspiring and absolutely rewarding, not only as a human being but also as an artist.”

Inspiring others to be proactive

Kinan Azmeh has been invited to tell his story on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, at the United Nations in New York in presence of Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations. While he doesn’t consider himself a humanitarian hero, he always searches for what he can do with his “limited tools”.

Meanwhile, the Syrian conflict has drifted out of the news and Kinan wants to remind people it’s still happening. By going around and playing his music, not only in Europe or in the United-States but also in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, he contributes to the humanitarian response and encourages others to become proactive. “There are lots of things that people can do, even if they’re not on the ground.”

Humanitarian workers and artists should work hand in hand

According to the Syrian artist, music can improve a person’s situation or heal a soul. This is why he decided to contribute to Terre des hommes’ work in Amman rehabilitation and training centre and in the host communities. “Terre des hommes is doing lots of great field work,” he says without hesitation.

Kinan remembers a little boy he met at Tdh’s child-friendly centre. The 11-year-old boy claimed to be in charge of the music work in the centre and started to teach other children how to play the flute and how to beat box. He was incredibly devoted and very inspiring to the Syrian clarinettist.

Watch Kinan Azmeh’s testimonial at the United-Nations
(minutes 15:25 / 30:18 / 36:05 / 42:15).

Find out more about Kinan Azmeh’s career as a musician.

Terre des hommes would like to thank Kinan Amzeh for the magic moments and the sunshine he brought to all the children, parents and staff!