Joy: Music Transforms

     This is a story about young people. They use music to bring joy.

     At Christmas we sing carols in church. We hear Christmas songs on the street. Music reminds us that this is a special time of year. Music brings us joy. 

     There was a boy named Ramzi. Music changed his life. Ramzi Aburedwan was born in Bethlehem. He lived with his grandparents in a refugee camp. A refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their home. 

     Ramzi’s family dreamed that one day they could return to their home. It isn’t easy to grow up in a refugee camp. Palestinian people want their freedom. But the Israeli government controls what they can do and where they can go. And Ramzi wanted to be free.

     When Ramzi was 17 years old, he learned about a new kind of music. Music teachers came to the refugee camp. They taught the children to play instruments. Ramzi learned the viola. (That’s like a big violin.)

     He loved the sound of the viola. He loved it even more when all the instruments played together. Ramzi got better and better at playing music. As he grew older, Ramzi’s dream was to teach music to children in Palestine. And his dream came true. He started a school where many refugee children learn music.

     One day, Ramzi and a group of young musicians got onto a bus. They went to a checkpoint. Palestinians have to pass through these places to get from one city to another. They need permission to travel to get to work, school, or a hospital, or to visit family. They need a special paper. And Israeli soldiers check their bags.

     People have to line up inside cages. It is crowded. People often get tired and angry. They have to wait a long time. And sometimes the soldiers don’t let people through.

     The musicians came with their instruments. They knew that music can bring joy to a joyless place. Ramzi told them to keep playing, even if the soldiers told them to leave. The young people were very brave. They started to play music for everyone at the checkpoint. 

     The soldiers didn’t know what to do. The people who were waiting in line stayed to listen to the music. Ramzi and the young musicians brought a gift of joy. They showed the world that even in a difficult situation, they can share a message of freedom, life, and peace.

     The blog of former World Council of Church’s Ecumenical Accompanier and  United Church member Patricia Mercer includes pictures of what a checkpoint is like.  Visit:

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