Twenty-five girls from Somalia and Cameroon who fled to Cyprus to get away from conflict and persecution have taken part in a series of innovative workshops called ‘Inspire – Connect – Belong’.
Based on the ‘Re-bE’ musical method created by Cypriot singer, composer and lyricist Alexia Vassiliou, the program – sponsored by Earth Friendly Products – is designed to help each child address their traumatic experiences and help restore a sense of safety as well as hope for a brighter future.
Through the workshops, the children were exposed to music listening, creative storytelling via improvisation, movement or dance, rhythm through playing percussion and using their voices to express.
They also tried the arts, including ceramics, using their hands to create.
The children also went into the community, visiting museums, attending a concert and school music shows, bringing them in contact with inspirational, educated and powerful Cypriot women.
Usually, girls aged 13-17 are placed at a shelter, under state welfare services until they turn 18.
While some are waiting to join family members in other EU countries; others are waiting for a decision by the Cypriot authorities on their asylum applications.
Those who turn 18 will be required to leave the shelter, unprepared to face the challenges that entails.
Speaking about the program, Damtew Dessalegne, UNHCR Representative in Cyprus said: “Such multi-dimensional educational programmes, as ‘Re-bE’, are important for refugee children who have lost not only their homes and families but also access to education, skills, confidence, social circles, aspirations and dreams.”
Alexia, a refugee herself from Famagusta, Cyprus, explains: “In the case of the separated and unaccompanied children, ‘Re-bE’ is designed to creatively distract them from their trauma and current situation, through music and creativity, in order to connect, inspire, empower them, and free their creative expression.”