It’s a long story

Sarah and I are very excited that our project, “On the Move: Poems and Songs of Migration” has been chosen as one of five finalists for the 2021 Amateo Award for arts participation projects across Europe. Even with the added stress of travel during the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, we are planning (in shallah) to travel to Milan for the ReSTART: Amateo annual conference 2021 and Amateo Award ceremony.

To join the live facebook event for the award ceremony on 29 October, visit: Amateo Award 2021 LIVE Ceremony

We know that if we win this award, it is one that will be shared by hundreds of people who have had the courage to share their stories with us and to work together through the often emotional and vulnerable process of shaping their words into songs. We also know that the most important element of arts participate is just that, to welcome everyone into a safe space where we can create something beautiful together.

There is deep meaning in shaping migration stories into songs, as the stories are often ones that hold pain and sadness. Creating music from this sadness can be healing and empowering. It can also bring something powerful and poignant into the being, inviting solidarity and empathy for those who listen to the song when it has gone out into the world. Just as the many people we have met have left everything behind to begin anew, their songs are as the phoenix, rising full of life from the ashes.

Many of the people we have met have received a positive response for their asylum applications. This allows them to remain in Belgium to start a new life. There are still many others whose stories continue. Some keep in touch and send news. Others we can only hope will find sanctuary.

We would like to share a song from Samba, who came to Belgium from Gambia at the end of 2019. He traveled a great distance and through many dangers and challenges to get to Brussels. I can only imagine how difficult his experience has been, arriving in a foreign place just before the start of a global pandemic. We share his song here.

To read more about the writing of the song, visit: When you cross the border

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