Chicago Palestine Film Festival photo
Never, ever underestimate the power of mentorship.
Thanks to helping hands, a boy raised among the nearly 1 million Palestinians living in refugee camps in the Middle East, grew up with a love of classical music. He learned to play the viola and, since 2003, continues to mobilize every interested person and spare musical instrument so that Palestinian children can have access to the multi-faceted benefits of music.
You can read and listen to a condensed version of the story of 31-year-old Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan on NPR.
Aburedwan and his music organization were the subject of a 2006 French documentary film, It's Not a Gun. Much of his success is due to the French connection, which began at the Conservatoire in Paris. Every June since 2002, there has been a music festival in Angers, which initially gave Aburedwan a voice, and helped him launch his massive project with donated instruments and volunteer musical visitors only a year later.
The first harpsichord in Palestine arrived thanks to him. He inspired the creation of the first festival of Baroque music in his native land, in 2004. Now, more than 500 children have access to music instruments and teachers in safe schools.
Because there is such a heavy French connection in all this, most of the stories about the project and Aburedwan have, so far, been written in French. If you can read it, you can visit the Al Kamandjati website for much more information.
What I find most inspirational in all this is the long chain of helping hands that helped replace the stone in an angry 8-year-old's hand with a viola, that helped that viola become part of an orchestra, that linked up to interested people around the world, and then reached back to where it started, finding more lost 8-year-olds, whose lives will be forever changed for the better.
Here is a short video profile of Al Kamandjati school life made last year by Saed Karzoun:
Now, a jazz combo from one of the Al Kamandjati schools tackling some Miles Davis last month: