Teaching music in Refugee Accommodation Centres, we are very well aware that many of our students are longing for the day they will be reunited with their family in another country. Until then, they become members of the El Sistema Greece music family, they devote themselves to music and create lifetime memories.
One of those students is Abeer from Syria, who fled her home country because of war and came to Athens. We met her in 2017 when she joined El Sistema Greece choir lessons in Skaramagas Refugee Camp. Back then, Abeer was 15 years old, living with part of her family in the camp and waiting for the day she could finally be reunited with her mother in another country.
As a member of the choir, Abeer participated in several concerts of El Sistema Greece, unifying her voice with other children’s voices. In the meantime, El Sistema Greece was developing fast, including more instruments in its curriculum, organising a series of concerts and significant performances, and offering unique artistic experiences to its students.
After a one-year interval, Abeer came back to the musical family of El Sistema Greece, in 2019. This time, the 17-year-old Abber decided to start learning a new instrument which she didn’t know that existed until then: the Viola! It’s worth mentioning that it was her mother who encouraged her and Abeer listened to her mother’s suggestion. Learning how to play the viola alongside other friends from the camp, she realized that music can open new, unknown worlds, and take you to happy places.
“When I am sad, I desperately want to play music in order to forget my sadness. It’s like the notes talk to me, telling me that everything will be fine again.’’
And indeed, it was the viola that established Abeer’s passion for music. In the two years that followed, as a member of the El Sistema Greece Youth Orchestra, Abeer participated in many concerts at prestigious concert halls in Athens and Thessaloniki, such as the Side by Side concert with the Greek National Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Greek National Opera, she played alongside the Yale Alumni Chorus as part of the Summer Nostos Festival at SNFCCultural Center and at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.
Last summer Abeer had to return her viola, pack her things and leave Greece. After almost 3 years, it was time to see her mother again. She now lives in the Netherlands, has a new life and a brand new viola, gift from her sister Christine. The whole family supports Abeer and encourages her to keep playing music. And even though she is not an active member of ESG, Abeer will always be in our hearts: Once in El Sistema Greece, always in El Sistema Greece!