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Closed Stave House in the Sahara - music education for refugee children

A project from Stave House
in Tindouf, Algeria

"Stave House in the Sahara" aims to facilitate primary-school music education in the Saharawi refugee camps (SW Algeria), where already 3 generations of Saharawi children have been born and raised entirely dependent on international aid to develop.

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About this project

At "Stave House in the Sahara" we aim to facilitate the implementation of music education in primary schools in the Saharawi refugee camps (SW Algeria). The Saharawi refugees, largely forgotten by the international community, have survived for over 40 years in one of the harshest parts of the Sahara desert, since they were forced out of their homeland Western Sahara in 1975. Despite their efforts to sustain cultural & educational projects, their ongoing situation of conflict & the difficult living conditions have put a strain on traditional channels of cultural transmission. "Stave House in the Sahara" looks for ways of combining traditional oral teaching methods with the use of the Stave House methodology & teaching materials.

Pilot project:
We are raising funds to run a 2-month pilot (Mar-Apr 2016) to:
- Teach music to a group of 30 Saharawi children
- Train a small group of local Saharawi teachers in Stave House method
- Give basic English language skills to teachers and students
- Produce a short promo documentary
- Explore future avenues for the project

Money raised will cover me to travel to the refugee camps & spend 2 months giving music lessons, music teaching training & English lang skills. Expenses include promotion, local admin, accommodation, food & transport, as well as a small bursary for participating teachers. Part of funds raised will be spent on tuned & untuned percussion instruments & other teaching materials. (If you wish to contribute with an instrument instead, get in touch!)

Why do we care?
Already three generations of Saharawi children have been born & raised in refugee camps in the desert, embedded in an ongoing situation of conflict & exile, entirely dependent on international aid to survive and develop. We firmly believe that access to culture & education are basic human rights. We think that every children, not matter their circumstances, should be able to experience the joy of learning & playing music.

Who is behind?
The project is run by me, ethnomusicologist & flutist Violeta Ruano - who has done extensive research on Saharawi music & culture - & music teacher Ruth Travers (Stave House UK), in collaboration with British charity Sandblast, the London Collage of Music (LCM) & the Saharawi Ministries of Culture and Education.

What has been done so far?
To carry out the 8-week pilot project we already have an English/Arabic Stave House teaching syllabus (thanks to Ruth & Saharawi student Brahim Buhaia for their translation efforts!) that we'll be re-adapting as the project develops. Stave House has also trained Violeta as a Stave House teacher & donated 2 large sets of classroom materials (magnetic boards & magnets), as well as 15 smaller individual sets for the children to use. During the Christmas break 2015-2016, I spent three weeks in the Saharawi refugee camps presenting the project & getting the necessary arrangements with our local partners.