Peace Through Music International, formerly known as the Shropshire Music Foundation, shares the power of music with refugees who have experienced displacement and trauma. “Since 1999, the organization has brought its programs to 20,000 children and taught 95,000 classes.” By providing a safe space and a sense of belonging, its programs help vulnerable individuals address past struggles and find solace in music. Music can be a unique outlet to help refugees and internally displaced persons address their past struggles during war or poverty. Music is a form of expression and gives meaning to the lives of refugees who lost their homes and community.
Local youth play a crucial role in leading community-building programs. Through these programs, individuals learn problem-solving, communication and job preparation skills. Peace Through Music teaches its volunteers how to create and achieve goals as a community, preparing them to be leaders for children and equipping them with valuable workplace skills.
Peace Through Music International includes crime prevention and drug/alcohol abuse prevention in its curriculum. Children are at risk of human trafficking and forced participation in extremist groups as well. Refugees had to flee an unsafe environment and experienced a lot of negativity. One goal of its programs is to “create opportunities for communication, cooperation and understanding among ethnic, religious and divided communities.” Despite these communities experiencing division, its programs create unity using the power of music to build empathy.
Peace Through Music Kosovo
Kosovo was formerly a part of Yugoslavia as a province of Serbia. Throughout Kosovo’s fight for independence from Serbia in 1998-1999, the country experienced violence and ethnic cleansing. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence to this day. The history of ethnic differences between Albanians and Serbs continues to challenge the country’s unity.
In Kosovo, Peace Through Music International offers classes in schools, shelters, remote villages and ethnic minority communities. For two decades, its programs brought people together peacefully with the power of music in a post-conflict community. Children have participated in local festivals and concerts as a result of its programs.
Scientific research supports the success of Peace Through Music International’s programs. A study that the American Psychological Association’s Traumatology Journal conducted examined that children who participated in music programs for longer periods were less likely to exhibit symptoms of psychological distress related to the conflict in Kosovo. The study found that children who experienced the music programs for longer periods were less likely to have symptoms of psychological or emotional distress.
Peace Through Music’s programs provides a safe space for children to heal from trauma and learn how to connect with the local community as well. An important aspect of Peace Through Music Kosovo is training local volunteers. The volunteers develop time management, leadership, peace training and English language skills.
Peace Through Music Uganda
Uganda experienced a devastating civil war between 1986 to 2009 that led to large-scale displacement and kidnapping of children to become child soldiers. The country continued to face human rights atrocities, instability and development limitations.
In Uganda, children in displaced communities, former child soldiers and teachers in training can take classes with the organization. For 12 years, Peace Through Music taught children in schools and refugee camps. Thousands of people live in internally displaced camps in Uganda. Its programs, which include singing, pennywhistle and drum classes, help these individuals connect with one another and find common ground after experiencing loss and violence.
Many child soldiers and children who lost their home struggle to connect with the local community. The power of music empowers these individuals to find common ground.
Teachers in training at St. Bakhita Teachers College work with the organization to develop skills for teaching music. Peace Through Music also focuses on its volunteer programs to ensure music can continue to make a difference in these children’s lives.
Peace Through Music’s programs in Kosovo and Uganda are using the power of music to build understanding and peace to repair communities devastated by war. Its programs demonstrate the transformative power of music in repairing and bringing understanding to communities devastated by war. By encouraging communication and empathy, these programs empower children who grew up in divisive environments to find common ground and share kindness with others.
– Ellie Bruce