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Music for Refugees
by Philip Feinstein
Music instrument collection for refugees in Darwin
I am a volunteer music teacher at the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney, having been involved with children and adult refugees there for some time. I am also privileged to have had the opportunity of obtaining various music instruments for these detainees, including 5 pianos, over 20 guitars, violins, percussion instruments and others.
Regardless of where we stand on the political scale, I am sure that we all recognise the stress and trauma that people go through being "locked up" in detention, despite not having committed any crime. As a member of the community, I look at the small picture to see where I can offer assistance to individual people.
The story so far . . . .
SBS-TV broadcast in mid-February: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDoTSOnqYWE&feature=youtu.be
ABC Radio broadcast on 8 May: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoMNX0-7WCE&feature=channel&list=UL
Various local papers, including http://www.independentaustralia.net/2011/new-australians/villawood-piano-teacher-says-look-at-the-small-picture/
Following on from the successes at Villawood, I am extending this project to all detention centres throughout Australia.
Contact has been made with St Vincent de Paul Society (St Vinnies) in Darwin, and they have agreed to act as agents to receive donated instruments and to then deliver them to the 3 Darwin detention centres: Darwin Airport Lodge, Wickham Point and Northern IDC.
The St Vincent de Paul centres receiving instruments in Darwin are:
St Vincent de Paul
107 Dick Ward Drive, Coconut Grove.
Ralf Wegner - Warehouse Manager
Phone (08) 8948-0887
St Vincent de Paul
3 Rolyat Street, Palmerston.
Nicole Coble - Centre Manager
Phone (08) 8932-3691
Philip was recently given a saxophone and a clarinet for refugees. "Knowing that those instruments are pretty alien to people from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq and other middle eastern countries, a music shop agreed to swap them for more practicable instruments - Lucy Romain from Prestige Music Instruments in Bondi Junction agreed to give me 5 new guitars and 5 new ukeleles for those wind instruments."
With Villawood already doing well with donated instruments, Feinstein has arranged to send the 5 guitars to the new Blaydin Point Detention Centre in DARWIN and the 5 ukeleles to ITA Detention Centre in MELBOURNE - both of those centres have young people in great need of instruments. "This fits in well with my project of asking the public to donate instruments to all detention centres throughout Australia, via the various drop-off points that have been organised." He has contacted various Uniting Churches, Catholic Churches, Synagogues and other institutions with strong social justice standings to become places where people can drop off instruments. "The public have been fantastic so far, but many more instruments are required. Many former musicians have found unused instruments which are now being put to good use. Even kids are parting with instruments they no longer use."
No matter where we live, we should consider what a difference we can make to a lonely and perhaps frightened refugee, who has come to our shores to try and make a good and safe life. It is known that making and listening to music is an amazing tool to create peacefulness and harmony. We can all make a difference in helping less fortunate people, no matter who they are or where they have come from. So maybe you have an instrument gathering dust in a cupboard, or maybe your kid's school has a spare guitar or recorder, or even some percussion instruments. I am asking people to donate their unused or unwanted instruments for a very good cause.
To music teachers or musicians in Darwin, I say: If you have the passion like me to share your knowledge and pleasure of creating music, please consider volunteering some of your time with the detained refugees. Even jamming together creates wonderful harmony. Or maybe you have another skill you can offer. Speak to a SERCO person at your closest centre to see if you can help - SERCO manages all the detention centres and their staff are very helpful.
Please contact me for any further information regarding this media release.