In Yemen War, Children Find Solace in Music
In the Yemeni city of Taiz, the sound of music fills the hall of a school, where little Nazira Al-Jaafari sits at a keyboard and her teacher takes her through the notes.
Jaafari, a student of the Al-Nawras school where tutors are trying to help students temporarily forget the continuous war. She states that she loves music. In fact, she plays music whenever she feels sad or a bit uncomfortable.
Jaafari has built up a diverse collection, which includes “Happy Birthday” and even some cult songs by Arab icons like Fairuz and Umm Kalthoum.
Taiz, a city in the southwestern Yemeni highlands, used to be famous for its coffee beans, which were grown at high elevation and exported through the famed port of Mokha.
However, today, it’s the home to some of the fiercest fighting between Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebel and government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.
The UN has requested both parties to open up the humanitarian corridors to surrounded Taiz, where state troops are stationed inside city limits and they are surrounded by militant forces.
The three-story Al-Nawras school was hit in 2015-2016. When it reopened its doors, walls still had the marks of bullet holes. Then the educators decided to widen the music program and make it a part of the core curriculum apart from Maths and Arabic. It was done with the dream that it would help in restoring joy in the life of the students.
Principal Shehabeddine Al-Sharabi stated that when the school was reopened the psychological state of the students was very difficult as they had seen intense fighting, bombardment, and shelling. A head from a neighboring university suggested introducing music in the curriculum and loaned instruments free of charge.
Music greatly affects students and they become more responsive. It helps to bring out positive views from them. It’s a known fact that music therapy is used all over the world in order to help people come out from trauma.
Hence, in the classrooms of Al-Nawras, dozens of boys and girls find daily, although temporary, respite from atrocities in a nation, which the UN stated that it’s home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.