We recently visited Ritsona, a refugee camp only 15 minutes away from our Oinofyta camp school.
Ritsona has around 600 refugees, most of whom are Syrian or Iraqi, staying in tents across what used to be a Greek military camp. The camp has some lovely trees that provide shade, and the volunteers have worked hard to make the camp livable by creating a safe place for pregnant and nursing mothers, a children’s activities area, and a school run mostly by community members from the camp.
Despite these positives, however, camp life is still not a fair life. Resources are limited, the heat is unbearable, the bathrooms are inadequate. The worst part is the waiting.
During our visit, we found one man who is helping a group of young men express themselves through music, learning a new skill and sharing together the beauty of their cultures and traditions.
They welcomed us to watch the class last week, with the young guys all standing to greet us and setting up new chairs on the outside of the circle.
Around the circle, men of ages between around 14 years old to late 30s leaned in to listen to the teacher’s instructions. He wrote the musical scale (do-re-me) in Arabic, then led them through a riff on the oud, the predecessor to the lute.
When we asked if we could record his demonstration, he commissioned a percussionist from amongst the volunteers and gave us a show!
Have a listen:
Learn more about Ritsona camp here: