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Celebrating Sanctuary

Celebrating Sanctuary

In the summer of 2010 Music In Detention carried out one of its first community exchange projects in the Hillingdon community, working with a group of 12-14 year old students from Harlington Community School,very near to Colnbrook IRC. The project was facilitated by Téa, Dan and Kevin from Music for Change.

The very intensive series of workshops led to a performance by the young people at the Celebrating Sanctuary festival on London’s South Bank, which brought detainees' music to a public audience. A poem by one of the students, putting himself in a detainee’s shoes, was read out at this performance. The students, who also performed music from the workshops to other pupils at the school and to several hundred parents, afterwards wrote:

It made me realise how sad the detainees were.

I had no idea what a detention centre was before.

It made me realise it’s a lot more complicated and heart breaking than I thought.

The music the detainees created was touching and I would like to hear more of it.

It’s for the people in the detention centre to feel strong.

Feedback on the project from staff included these observations:

Many students had not been aware of the reasons people are held in these centres and discovered their previously held view were unfounded. Students discovered new friendships outside of their normal groupings and said they felt more confident in themselves, creating their own songs, and were touched by the music and lyrics created by the detainees themselves.

Following the success of this performance young students from Harlington were invited to return to the stage again in June 2011 after participating in another project facilitated by Shammi and Arjunan from Asian Music Circuit linked to men detained at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.

Students from Harlington Community School performing at Refugee Week festival on the South Bank, London

Students from Harlington Community School performing at Refugee Week festival on the South Bank, London

Performance to over 200 audience members on the South Bank

Performance to over 200 audience members on the South Bank

Held Captive

In my quest to achieve my goals I stumble, crumble and lose my soul
Those that knew me for a long time know no life as hard as mine
No father no money no chance and no you
I only follow my voice inside
If it guides me wrong and I do not win then I’ll learn from my mistakes and try to achieve again.
Please wake me when I am free
I cannot bear captivity
Please wake me when I am free
I cannot bear captivity
Where I’m told my culture has no significance
I’ll wither away and die in ignorance.
But my inner eye some can see some distance

A race who reigned as kings in another place
The green oak trees were rich and full
And every mouth spoke of beautiful men and women working together as equals.

War was not invented yet and time had not learned to regret

Always were peaceful and each peace was full of yes

But now like a nightmare I wait to see that I live like a prisoner of poverty

And in the darkness of my cells I find a stubborn hopeful ray of light refusing to be held captive

And I, I would rather be stricken blind than live without expression of mind

So please wake me when I’m free

I cannot bear captivity

Please wake me when I am free

I cannot bear captivity

Tyson aka Yaasin Mohamed

Student from Harlington Community School