Music Workshop

Music workshops re-ignite Mohamed’s will to reach his safe heaven

By Nejra Baltes and Aida Čorbo

Music echoes through the makeshift classroom in a Temporary Reception Centre Usivak in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

Lost in music, Mohamed (28) fingers the guitar strings. Mohamed learned to play the guitar right here in the camp. Having spent years on the road, he finds that these lessons help him work through the memories of past struggles and bring to life a new hope for a dignified future.

“Music helps me forget everything I have been through. It gives me the strength to move on”, says Mohamed. Here in the Usivak camp, Mohamed found more opportunities for socialization and education. He is also learning the German language.

The music workshop and language classes are a part of the World Vision BiH programme providing mental health and psychosocial support to migrants and refugees in BiH. With the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), acting on behalf of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), World Vision is organizing and conducting educational, recreational and occupational workshops aimed at improving the mental health of people on the move.

„I find the German language difficult, but I am dedicated to learning “, says Mohamed.

German lessons in camp

Originally from Afghanistan, Mohamed made a decision to leave his homeland due to political instability and lack of security, as well as having no prospect of finding a job. For decades, opposition groups have been attempting to gain control of different areas in the country, resulting in the displacement of millions of Afghan citizens.

Even in these fragile conditions, Afghans try to make their daily lives manageable – the food must be put on the table, and those who know the value of education do everything in their power to help their children go to school. College-educated, Mohamed stresses the importance of education, „I managed to finish college in a state where war is happening, If a young person has a chance to get educated in peace, they should aim for that“.

Having an economic degree in hand, Mohamed is hoping to find a job in his line of work. This young man is, however, trying to be realistic about his prospects: ''If nothing else, I know how to work with steel constructions for buildings, and I will be happy if I can find a job doing that''.

Before reaching BiH, Mohamed crossed through Iran, Turkey, Macedonia, and Serbia.

''My journey was strenuous and the road is dangerous“, Mohamed says and adds, ''but the love keeps me going, as my fiancee is in Germany.“ Having fled their home countries for different reasons, refugees and migrants leave their support networks and find themselves in a stateless situation, with no legal protection of a country. They face not only risks to their health and safety, but also a real threat of sexual and labour exploitation on the road. Being in such a situation perpetually leaves a person exposed to psychological trauma.

World Vision BiH programme in camps is created to provide much-needed support and alleviate the stressors that trauma of uprooting, hardship, and uncertainty of the lives on the prolonged move have on the human psyche. The programme aims to enhance their ability to cope, engage and maintain meaningful relationships, and according to the children and young men who attend these workshops and education sessions, it does help.