see this video-clip on my latest 'mission' a week ago for Music Fund, together with luthier Jacky Walraet, to Kinshasa (DRC):
(the video-compilation is made by Jacky Walraet, a luthier (guitars and string-instruments) with many other talents as well!)
Here you can see musicians from Kinshasa whom we interviewed there last week, asking them what they think of the guitars made in Kinshasa, which Music Fund is now selling on line:
Last night, 26th June, Ottignies, festival Nuit Africaine: jazzmusician Philip Catherine, as well as musicians Daniel Hélin, Bai Kamara and Fred Lani, performed on guitars made in Kinshasa. in the hands of these fine musicians, the guitars from Kinshasa sound great ! to help these guitar-makers from Kinshasa to develop their workshops, Music Fund decided to sell their their guitars on internet: www.musicfund.be
This is what bluessinger Fred Lani had to say about his experience: "Chacune de ces guitares est unique, avec tout l'amour de la musique et du travail bien fait qui ont été mis dans la fabrication. Chacune a une âme et donne au musicien cette authenticité, cette force qu'on trouve dans les plus beaux enregistrements de blues des années 20 et 30. Ces guitares se méritent, et méritent qu'on leur porte de l'attention. Lors de cette Nuit Africaine , cette Almaz m'a donné beaucoup d'émotion. Merci mille fois à ses concepteurs et à MusicFund d'avir permis cela !"
It was great to be confronted with so much enthusiasm from the musicians towards these guitars made in Kinshasa.
GOOD NEWS FOR MUSIC AFICIONADO’S !
Music Fund is a Belgian organisation that supports young musicians and music academies in developing countries and conflict areas. As of June 12th, we are offering you the opportunity to order one of our popular handmade Congolese guitars.
WHERE DID WE GET THIS IDEA?
In 2009, Music Fund focuses on locally produced instruments, starting in Kinshasa. Almaz and Socklo are two experienced guitar makers who, in spite of the difficult circumstances, continue to craft beautiful guitars by hand. They create unique pieces with a unique sound and are renowned with local musicians in Kinshasa.
When we came into contact with their work, we were very impressed and decided that people in Europe could be very interested in these unique instruments.
Artists such as Garland Jeffreys, Axelle Red and Philippe Catherine have already said to be big fans of their particular sound. Others are thinking of expressing themselves in a similar way.
That is why Music Fund is now providing you with the possibility to buy one of these guitars.
Not only will you be getting you hands on a true collector’s item, but you would also be supporting both our guitar makers and musicians in Kinshasa.
How so? Thanks to the deposits they receive for the guitars, Almaz and Socklo would finally be able to expand their workshops, build up stocks, buy better tools, …
Of course there are many more in Kinshasa who would love to follow in their footsteps, but who have never been given the chance. With part of the proceeds, Music Fund would be able to offer these people training courses, to teach them how to repair and maintain musical instruments.
To order such a guitar, go to the Music Fund website
I just got the bad news that we do not get entry permits to go work in Gaza with our team of music instrument techniques of Music Fund (www.musicfund.be).
Our 'plan B' is to now go work for our partnerschools in Jenin and Nablus.
I cannot tell you how dissappointed I am myself, as well as my team !!!
But I am especially sorry for our friends in Gaza. We tried and did not succeed last November and again now. But we will try again in a few months, for sure. We do not want to let our friends in Gaza down, and will try again this Fall (if we can get the money, in the beginning of November). Maybe 3rd time good time. never say never. They can count on us for not giving up.
We are so impressed that they reopened the music school in Gaza again, only 2 months after it was destroyed on 28th December 2008.
Here you can see Belgian artists playing the guitars from Kinshasa (Congo) workshops which Music Fund is selling on its website from 5th June on:
Music Fund is selling these guitars in order to allow the guitar ateliers to develop and expecting that their development will interest others in town to want to learn the skills of repairing music instruments, something which Music Fund is giving training programmes for, in collaboration with the Institut National des Arts in Kinshasa.
The Casa da Madrid and La Casa Encendida are preparing together with the concert organisor Musica d'Hoy a big collecting campaign for Music Fund which will take place in Madrid during the week of 14th December 2009. We expect this collecting campaign to be the biggest ever organised for Music Fund, as the organisation of it looks very professional indeed.
We already have the support of one of Spain's well-known artists, Jorge Drexler, who agreed to be Music Fund's ambassador for this campaign in Spain.
An article also just appeared about Music Fund in El Pais (click here), written by one of its star-journalists, Jesus Ruis Mantilla. Jesus is joining me for a short trip of several days to the Middle East in the beginning of June to get acquainted with all the partner-school of Music Fund in Nazareth, Nablus, Ramallah and Gaza, and is planning to write several articles about our work there, following this trip.
I am really happy to hear that thanks to financial support from the Province of Antwerp, the private project "3rdPARTY" (a 3-year project around Palestinian and Israeli peace-activists) can be started in Antwerp from this Autumn on.
It is a private initiative which I am taking together with Rik Coolsaet, Karin Heremans and Mohammed Filali.
"3rdPARTY" (in Dutch: "3dePARTIJ") is a 3-year programme in 3 parts:
1. every 2 months a meeting with peace activists from Israel and Palestine: during 3 days they will meet in the city of Antwerp with schools, associations and finally also in public at one of the 2 theatres (Toneelhuis / Monty), to share their hopes, aspirations and difficulties. a well-read Flemish magazine will each time cover these meetings (5 per year, 15 in 3 years).
2. from the Summer of 2010 on, we will organise 3 years in a row a 10-day trip to Israel and Palestine for a group of about 10 youngsters who just finished highschool (18-20 year olds).
3. we will create a fund to give support to peace activists' projects in the Middle East.
This private initiative wants to show that there are some very curageous people working for peace, against all odds and against the opinion of many around them, and that we as "third party" - outside of the conflict region - can be of help by making friends with them, presenting their work and giving support to some of their projects.
As soon as we get firm confirmation about the budgets, the peace activists invited from September on will soon be contacted and the full programme of this initiative announced here and elsewhere.
see also: http://3rdparty.canalblog.com
today an article was published in El Pais (click to read the article) on the projects of Music Fund in the Middle East and Africa. and the journalist of this article, Jesus Ruiz Mantilla, is spending 4 days with me in Israel and Palestine in the beginning of June. he is planning to write more later on.
"3rdPARTY" is a private initiative (not yet an organisation) which wants to create bridges between the population of Antwerp and non-violent peace activists working and living in Israel and Palestine, via public meetings in Antwerp and youth trips to the Middle East.
I hate the idea of boycots (see my article "A Third Party for the Middle East") and together with a few friends in Antwerp, we would like to engage ourselves in creating real links between us here and those courageous ones out there.
For more information, go to the weblog of "3rdPARTY", which will soon include more detailed information on this project which we hope to start in September 2009.
On this trailer of the documentary film "The Exchange" (on the projects of Ictus and Music Fund in the Middle East) you can hear Mrs Reem Abu Jaber, the director of the Gaza Qattan Centre for the Child (her picture), speak about the partnership between Music Fund and the A.M. Al-Qattan Foundation.
I have spoken this weekend with Reem, as well as with other friends in Gaza, such as Mona Abu Ramadan, who are all very relieved that the attack of the Israeli army seems to be over for a while. They all hope and expect for a lot of support from outside to rebuild what has been destroyed.
I really hope that we will succeed with Music Fund to be in Gaza in April in order to give support to the music school of Qattan via training of technicians and the donation of instruments and tools. We still need to assure the budgets for this 'mission' and I sure hope that we will succeed in doing so !
Here you can find a 10 minute compilation of our 'mission' to Kinshasa, made by guitar-maker Jacky Walraet, who was together with Karel Dedain sent by Music Fund to teach repair-techniques at the Institut National des Arts of Kinshasa from 27th December until 6th January:
In August 2006 in the middle of the Lebanon war, I wrote the article "A Third Party for the Middle East" (click here to read it). It has not lost much of its actuality, nor do I think very different about it all. These thoughts still inspire a lot of my engagement in our projects in the region, in and outside Westbank and Gaza.
The article was published in Belgium in De Standaard and in Le Soir, and in Israel in the Haaretz.
My friend Karin Heremans called upon me yesterday. She is the director of the Atheneum, the largest secondary school of Antwerpen, Belgium. Last year, Karen Heremans, Mohammed Filali, Aharon Malinsky and myself went together to Israel where I organised them several days of meetings with representatives of schools and organisations from within the Arab as well as Jewish communities (see this blog in February 2008).
© with Karen, Mohammed and Aharon in Nazareth, January 2008
The tensions and killings in the Middle East can again – as always – be enormously felt within the diffierent communities (Jewish and Muslim) in the city of Antwerp. Karin tells me that she is very worried about the possible danger of things going wrong in the city.
She wants me to help them communicate with the youngsters in the school (many of them from Maroccan and Turkish origin) and invite them to listen to different testimonies about the people that live in Israel and Palestine… testimonies which go beyond the black-and-white presentations which are often proposed by media here and over there, presenting one side as the victims and the other side as the aggressor.
As we are often there with Ictus and Music Fund, we have things to tell them, which are different from the information which the media give, hoping that the emotional reactions of anger towards all the misery does not necessarily only lead to aggressive behaviour towards people living in Antwerp (of the Jewish community of Antwerp or others) who could be seen of ‘ennemy’ of the Arab and Muslim people. We know many people in Israel who also desperately long for peace and security and who are sick of the killings and the occupation. We can tell them about these friends.
© a donation of Music Fund (piano and more instruments) waiting at Karni checkpoint (Gaza) to be transfered into the Gaza Strip, January 2006
Today is our last day in Kinshasa. These missions of 10 days are long and short at the same time. They seem long, as we are doing so much in such a short time. It feels as if we have been here several weeks in terms of what we have been able to work on. But it is in many respects objectively also too short, as we need to sort out so many things in order to make our projects in Kinshasa work.
In 2009, we will ask our Government to give support to a programme which will focus, instead of bringing students to Europe, on 2 different interventions of European expert-luthiers in Kinshasa: (1) one shorter of 10 days in June-July (3 expert-luthiers for the repair of pianos, wind instruments and guitars), and (2) another one longer of 3 months (1 expert-luthier for repair and tuning of pianos + maybe an expert-luthier for repair of wind instruments). Also, Music Fund will in 2009 further equip its repair workshop in the music school of Kinshasa, as well as send more music instruments for teaching students and for the orchestra of the school.
Please go for pictures about our 'mission' to Kinshasa to the blog of the luthiers Jacky Walraet and Karel Dedain - for their blog, click here - both guitar-makers and teaching at the Flemish Lutherie School of Puurs (CMB Puurs).
While working in Kinshasa, the bad news from Gaza comes to us. I stayed the last week in contact with our friends and partner there. Yesterday, I found out that the new music school, which our partner, A.M. Al-Qattan Foundation, has founded only last September, has been destroyed. The building was destroyed and some of the music instruments were damaged too.
Such a pity. The teachers were very excited about the progress the children were making the last months, and Music Fund was and is getting prepared to launch a project in support of this music school. We will have to wait and see now whether and when our partner will be able to get this project on again, but are in the meantime in touch with them to see how we can be of help.
Everything seems difficult here in Kinshasa, because people are so terribly poor. This is our greatest challenge here: We are doing our best to make sure that the project of Music Fund in Kinshasa can end up creating jobs and wealth. This is not easy at all. Because of their lacking sufficient amount of income, many of the teachers of the school are after immediate gains, something we cannot offer them, as training to become an instrument repair technician takes a lot of time (up to 3 years).
For more pictures about this 'mission' to Kinshasa, go to the blog of the luthiers Jacky Walraet and Karel Dedain - for their blog, click here - both guitar-makers and teaching at the Flemish Lutherie School of Puurs (CMB Puurs).
Please go for pictures about our 'mission' to Kinshasa to the blog of the luthiers Jacky Walraet and Karel Dedain - for their blog, click here - both guitar-makers and teaching at the Flemish Lutherie School of Puurs (CMB - www.cmbpuurs.be).
This work-period in Kinshasa is all focussed on the repair of guitars: we wish in the future to extend the workshop - which we opened together with the INA (Institut National des Arts) in June 2008 - to the repair of guitars. I have the last days not been able to write for the blog, as I was in bed most of the time. Fortunately, and exceptionally, I have not come alone, but accompagnied by the new coordinator of Music Fund, Messaouda Zaouali. She has taken over a lot of the work I did alone during our previous workvisits.
Augustin Kadiata, the person who followed a 3-month intership in Belgium during the Spring of 2008, has the last months worked in our atelier and repaired already many instruments of the school, as well as started helping out musicians from the city of Kinshasa. Augustin has been engaged by the school and receives on top of his small salary a percentage of the money earned on the reparations of instruments.
The guitar-repair-workshop is very succesful. A group of 5 guitarteachers attended, most quit young and very dynamic and good-spirited. We should absolutely need to also develop this as part of the atelier, and therefor need to set-up training schemes in this field as well.
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Sunday, 9th November 2008.
Today is a day off for everyone. I am on my own, finishing some work on my computer and then off for a few meetings with friends.
Unfortunately, my friend Itshak Frankenthal had to cancel our meeting of today because of a funeral. I was longing to meet him again after not seeing him for several years. Itshak was cofounder of the Parents Circle and more recently of the Arik Institute for Reconciliation, Tolerance & Peace, two associations which do formidable work in the field of peace education in the region.
Tonight, our last meeting will be with my good friend the Haaretz journalist and music critic Noam Ben-Zeev and his wife Yael. It will surely be wonderful - as always - to be able to share our experiences and future projects for the region with them.