November 18, 2017

Street Children, Refugees, and Adventist Youth Sing in Community Choir

A mix of three children’s choirs involving street children, refugees, and Adventist children from local churches filled a Belgrade community hall with music and emotion while building important connections between diverse communities.

Songs filled the air in the ADRA Serbia Community Center just five kilometers outside central Belgrade, Serbia, on Thursday, Nov. 9. The concert was organized by the Raspevano svratište (Singalong Shelter) children’s choir singing for and with their friends. It is made up of children who live and work on the streets of Belgrade.

The concert also featured two other children’s choirs—the ADRA Community Choir made up of children from the nearby refugee camp, and the Rainbow choir with children from local Adventist churches. Parents, friends, and students from surrounding local schools were among the 70 visitors in the audience.

The event was an opportunity for two groups of children to meet, socialize, sing, and play, thus raising their motivation for learning. The event was intended to build bridges between community and church families and to help Adventist children learn how to reach out beyond their community to the varied social groups within the cheerful atmosphere of the ADRA Center.

The hall echoed with songs about love and friendship, family and joy. Child refugees from Afghanistan and Iran, singing in their best Serbian, stole the show. The climax was reached when all three choirs joined forces to sing ‘Let Love Shine Everywhere.’

“It was very nice at the concert, I was happy to participate,” said Rashid, a 12-year old Afghani boy. He sang the solo part as the choir performed ‘Just let there be no war,’ a famous Yugoslav antiwar pop song from the mid-80s. “While I was singing, I strongly wished no war would ever happen anywhere, and that love may be shining in all places,” he said.

“Thank you ADRA for a wonderful evening,” said Mahnaz, an 11-year-old Afghani girl. My strongest impression was when our friends from the school class came and sang together with us, ‘Let Love Shine Everywhere.’”

Vahidu agreed. “Thank you; I am so happy.” Anush, an Afghani boy from Iran, shared that the concert stirred great feelings, and that the cookies were very good, too.

Social workers and youth from the Centre for Social Prevention Activities Association (GRiG) were in the audience too. GRiG provides social therapy and learning programs, developing skills for integration into the local youth community for children with difficulties. They expressed that the event was a wonderful opportunity for integrating, socializing and creating music together on so many levels.

The concert was featured on the Serbian National radio and TV network (RTS), and on B92, the largest news portal in the country.

Raspevano svratište is project organized by Maja Ćurčić, a music teacher from the Art Aparat Association. The organization’s goal is empowerment for children living or working on the streets, and who use children’s shelter services. The event was also part of a buddy program campaign implemented by ADRA Serbia as part of their project, ‘Effective Integration of the Children of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Formal education,’ supported by the Divac Foundation and the European Union.