Spotlight: Musicians without Borders

Musicians without Borders

Musicians without Borders

As you may know, my profession (as of this writing) is web development and my passion is music. (This, of course, is an oversimplification, but it maps neatly to this Venn diagram.) It’s time to take a look at something music-related that also relates to OIRED’s work in international development.

One of the teachers of the week-long workshop I attend each summer is active in the organization Musicians without Borders (MwB). As it says on their website, they are a “global network organization using the power of music for healing and reconciliation in areas torn by war and conflict.” I’ve written before about the science behind music’s power to build social connections between people, so I have no surprise that someone should try to use it in this way. But to use music to build toward such an audacious goal as “world peace” is, to me, a bold and inspiring enterprise.

It works a little bit differently in each of the places where the organization works, but there are commonalities between them. They appear to be building a toolbox of models, methodologies, and trainings in hopes of being able to use them in situations that arise in other geographic regions. (This, incidentally, sounds a lot like the way the two Innovation Labs we manage—IPM, SANREM—work, to me.)

  • Their Palestine Community Music project works in Palestine to develop nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution.
  • Mitrovica Rock School in the city of Mitrovica, Kosovo (in Serbia) teaches music to young people from both sides of the bitter Serbian/Albanian ethnic divide.
  • Their Music Bridge project works in Northern Ireland to overcome the social and political boundaries between different groups there.
  • Tanzania Youth Music, in the Moshi District of Tanzania close to Kilimanjaro, is strengthening the capacity of community-based organizations.
  • Their Stone Flowers project in north-west England is helping to rehabilitate torture survivors.
  • The From Woman to Woman project in Tuzla Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina helps rehabilitate the women survivors of the 1995 genocide.
  • Finally, their Rwanda Youth Music project works in Rwanda to reach out to youth suffering from a variety of hardships.

There are so many ways to make a difference in the world, and one might legitimately argue that initiatives such as Doctors without Borders and USAID-funded development projects address much more concrete and critical needs. But music is a force, and a powerful one, and Musicians without Borders is using that power to mend rifts between people and heal the scars left by conflict around the world.

Something that, I hope you’ll agree, fits squarely in the “that which the world needs” bubble on the above-referenced Venn diagram.

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