Since the summer of 2015, over 2.5 million refugees have applied for asylum in an EU country. More than one million of them have migrated through Greece or Italy. While the whole of the European Union is still disputing about a suitable distribution solution, the border countries are suffering from the enormous immigration wave. An almost unmanageable amount of people, who are not the only ones suffering in their home country. In the receiving countries too, it becomes increasingly difficult for the people seeking protection to make a dignified life possible.
The boom bus brings refugees’ children closer to playing music
With this bus, Annabel and Bram are on their way to Greece
With the “Boom Bus” project, two people from Holland are now trying to find a way of helping children in refugee homes in Greece. Currently, Annabel and Bram are packed with their minibus with Boomwhackers on their way to Greece. We were able to take the opportunity to lead a short interview with the two.
1. Can you introduce yourself?
We are Annabel Jansen and Bram Wassinc. We are both from Amsterdam and we met through guitar lessons Bram gave to the boy I was babysitting during my studies. Bram studied bass guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Amsterdam and is now a musician and guitar teacher. And I studied cultural analysis at the University of Amsterdam. I recently graduated and also work as a photographer/ film maker.
2. Can you briefly describe the Boombus project?
The Boom Bus brings the healing power of music to people who need it most. Our first ‘project’ is children in refugee camps and asylum centers. We feel the ‘problem’ is worst in Greece so we decided to get on the road with a bus full of instruments and drive to the children who are stuck in camps waiting for a status.
3. How did you get this idea?
I have always been of the ‘helping kind’. When I graduated I finally had time to give back and I’d felt real bad for all those kids stuck in camps that I really wanted to do something. Bram and I were talking about how music can be so helpful and healing because he had just given a music workshop in an old folks home, that we then and there decided that we we’re going to bring music to refugee children. He had worked with Boomwhackers before so we decided to make a workshop with these tubes so language wouldn’t be a barrier. And we decided to become social musical troubadours.
4. Have you worked in musical education before?
Like I said, Bram has a lot of experience with children and old folks. He gives workshops and lessons.
5. Why did you choose to use Boomwhackers for your project?
Because of their non language, colorful, easy to play, kids don’t have to be experienced musicians, and because of the teamwork. Together you build songs. Alone you can’t really play them, you’ll need others to make something happen. And we want the kids in camps to bond, and not be afraid of each other.
6. Can you describe your work? How does an average day come off on the road?
We’ve started given lessons in Asylumcenter Almere. We hosted a group of 20 children and played songs, practiced dance moves and coloured. It was a very versatile workshop. Now that we’ve moved on to the next center, the people we trained will proceed with the lessons.
7. What role does musical education for refugee children play from your point of view?
It helps heal the wounds of war, we hope. We truly hope we can give them a little bit of joy back in their lives. These kids have lost so much and all is so uncertain. We cannot change that situation but we can bring them the chance to express themselves through music, dancing and having fun with other children.
8. What is it, that drives you for doing such a project?
Bram and I are both social people, always looking to help others. We feel that the world needs people to help each other. And every artist can use their art form to inspire others to do the same.
9. So your journey just started. What are your plans? How long are you going to be on the road?
We just left Holland and are on our way to Greece. We will start in a refugee camp in Tessaloniki. We will stay there about 6 weeks to train volunteers to become Boomwhacker ‘specialists’ and give music lessons five times a week. We will build up to a grand evening of kids performing what we worked on and then we move on to the next camp in Edomini. And so we will continue until the end of December.
10. What are your first impressions on your journey (regarding the refugee crisis)?
I cannot really answer that yet, since we’ve only worked with refugee children in Holland. I can say that we are so impressed with how easy they picked up the dutch language and how motivated they were, full of energy. It was very hard to leave them behind and we will visit them again as soon we come back.
11. How is the project financed and how can you be supported?
Through crowdfunding and The Amsterdam Arts fund and also trying to live with as little as possible. We can sleep in our bus and not spend any money on anything other than gas and the necessary food. We eat oatmeal, rice and vegetables and drink only water 🙂 Vanlife is very affordable.