A poet, a weightlifter, and a blind folk singer. PIN organised a social cohesion talent show in SyriaPublished: Jul 8, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
What do a poet, a former weightlifting champion, and a blind folk singer share in common? Recently, they participated in a talent show as part of PIN’s social cohesion programme in Syria.
The talent show, in which these three performers participated, was developed with the intention of building connections between the local community and the refugees who have made it their home. Altogether, 60 people took part in the talent show, including singers, painters, folk dancers, and actors.
One PIN staff member who helped organise the show explained, “We aim to enhance harmony and cohesion between all the people in the community, especially after the war.
Also, [it can] help individuals integrate into a community that they may feel is different from their original community. We have the host community and there are displaced people who settled here as there is a mixture of people from all regions of Syria. Through our activities, it is a chance for them to meet each other and create friendships.
We would like to convey that despite the differences in ethnicity, gender, opinion, and points of view, and despite the tragedies caused by the war in our country, we are united as one nation.”
Khalil, known colloquially as Abu Al-Qasem, is a musician in the talent show. “I grew up in an educational institution for the rehabilitation of the blind. I learned many things there. I learned to read with the Braille system for the blind, I learned the Noble Qur’an and memorized it by heart, and I also learned to play Oud and sing in this school. After high school, I also learned educational medicine and physical therapy. But I loved music and singing more than anything else.”
Khalil saw the talent show as an opportunity for people such as him to “show their talents and prove that they can live a normal life despite their disability. Although I am blind, I do not find a difference between me and any other person. I cannot see with my eyes, but I can see and feel with my heart better than anyone.”
Ibrahim is a poet and writer, who presented a poem for the audience entitled ‘Behind the Borders’. Poetry is an indelible part of Arabic culture. “This poem tells the suffering of the displaced and their leaving their home country,” he said. “I love my country and my countrymen, and I welcome any activity or event that supports social harmony.”
“[The talent show] gives people the chance to be close to each other and encourages positive relationships. Also, I saw many children here as it was wonderful to encourage children to participate and develop their skills and talents.”
Presenting a very different kind of talent, Aqeel is a Taekwondo coach and former weight-lifting champion. “I had a dream I wanted to achieve but the war in Syria destroyed everything, my dream was also destroyed. I opened a gym for bodybuilding, then I started working on training and spreading Taekwondo for children and adults. I was the first one who introduced this game to our area.”
“I can't describe this feeling to you, but I can tell you that when we have a show, and we tell the players to get ready they get so excited they can't sleep thinking about it until it's time for the show. I like that the players in my academy are one team and one family: girls and boys and there is no difference between them.”
In a country so affected by prolonged conflict, creating a sense of unity among communities is a vital step on the road to recovery. Social events like this talent show can be an opportunity for people to come together and forge meaningful connections with their peers.