On 31 December, 23 Palestine refugee students and six musicians will release a message of hope and unity for the world. (2020 UNRWA Photo).
A group of young and talented Palestine refugee women and men are sending a message of hope and unity to the world through a song they have just released.
“United as One” is an upbeat song that resulted from long hours of composing, jamming and experimenting that the young people spent with a group of international songwriters and musicians, a song that embodies the resilience and hope of refugee youth.
The 23 young Palestine refugees are all members of the 2018/2019 Agency-wide Student Parliament representing the voices of over half a million Palestine refugee girls and boys studying in more than 700 schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Through this first initiative of its kind, the students hoped to send the world a message of determination, unity, and peace – even in the face of conflict, joblessness and now, a devastating global pandemic. It is their end-of-year wishes to the world, hoping that 2021 will be a better year for everyone.
The music-making initiative was born when the Agency-wide Student Parliament members, frustrated at their limited opportunities for self-expression, articulated an interest in using music to make their voices heard around the world.
Under the artistic leadership of Italian cultural manager Paolo Petrocelli (Founder and President of EMMA for Peace, an international NGO for the promotion of music diplomacy, the project brought together music professionals: Davide Dileo, composer and music producer from Italy; Jordan De Maio, singer-songwriter from the USA-Italy; Lydia Lyon, singer-songwriter from the USA; Zeina Barhoum singer from Jordan; and Amira Issaa, a rap artist from Italy.
The artists helped bring the student parliamentarians' dream to life through coaching and mentoring the students over two years to produce a beautiful piece of music that expresses the creativity and determination of the young Palestine refugee population.
The lyrics highlight the beauty of the music and passion of the students: “Despite the challenges, despite the worries, our hope lasts. We want to write with the ink of freedom and love, new unforgotten pages and color them with you for a new future and a new day.”
For the young Palestine refugees, music has provided a much-needed escape from an often difficult reality.
Due to the Agency's unprecedented financial crisis, critical services like those extended to these children are now in jeopardy, putting Palestine refugees at risk.