MARCH 20, 2012 – Just outside of Jerusalem is the Madaa Silwan Creative Center. “Madaa” means “horizon” in Arabic, and was founded by Jawad Siyam, who remains the center’s spirit and director. The community built the learning center so young Arabic kids could escape the daily politics and violence, and serve as a refuge for young Arabic kids. At the center they find a quiet library with thousands of books for children, and a computer room where kids who don’t have a computer at home can surf the Internet. There are always learning activities going on. Part of the center is the Silwan Village Music School, where young kids who once had no place to go and no instruments, now have pianos, guitars, violins, cellos, choir and more, depending on which day you come. In an interview for Hareetz.com Ahmad Qareen, a resident of Silwan said, “Until 2007, the children here didn’t have anything. We, some of the neighborhood residents, therefore decided to set up a cultural center. We rented this apartment, and first of all, we opened the music school. At first, 15 children sat on the floor of the small apartment without any musical instruments. Today, we already have 100 students, and there is also a drama club, a mosaics school, a creative writing class, and a summer day camp. There was also a soccer team, until the field was destroyed. And there are courses in English, math and sewing for women.”
The mission of Madaa is to promote non-violence, promote dialogue and empower the community by providing recreational activities, like music, for the youth of Silwan. Qareen added, “First of all, in the children: We can feel a change in them. They have learned to keep the place nice, to behave politely and to keep quiet; they have learned the importance of sticking to a timetable, and also that there is something called the rights of the child. We established the place for them, so they won’t go doing bad things, [like] smoking, and to keep them away from violence.” To read more check out an article on Hareetz.com, and check out the Madda Silwan Creative Center’s website here.