All posts tagged: Projects

Music scholarships – Jounieh, Lebanon

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Mabrook! (congratulations) to the young people who have completed Make Foundation’s first music scholarship programme in Jounieh, Lebanon.

Seven students took part in the 10 week programme that was held at the A to Z afterschool centre in Jounieh just north of Beirut.

Students received 30 hours of tuition, covering theory and practice in either singing, oud or keyboard. The students were chosen with the help of the nearby Official School Sarba which runs a special curriculum for Syrian refugee children. Make Foundation also provided transportation and refreshments.

The project was led by Pierre Alkhoury, an opera singer and teacher at the Faculty of Music, Kaslik University. Pierre says the progress made by the whole group is really impressive.

“None of the students had any previous formal musical tuition. What they shared was a love of music and a passion to learn. They came with great enthusiasm and made huge progess, especially considering all the challenges they have been through and their difficult living conditions.”

The young people who took part in the programme all moved to Lebanon from Syria because of the civil war in their home country. They come from the cities of Homs, Hama and Lattakia, but have been living in the Kaslik, Jounieh and Sarba areas of Lebanon for some time. While the war in Syria is less intense than before, their families simply can’t risk going back yet, says Pierre.

“I’m also from Syria, and while everyone’s situation is unique I think it’s fair to say it’s just not possible to go back yet for many people. Some have lost their homes, jobs and family members, so they would have very little support if they went back home. There is also a risk of persecution for those who return. While life can be challenging here, for many this is where they have to build a future, at least for now.”

Pierre says supported programmes like Make Foundation’s are very important for young people from Syria growing up in Lebanon.

“Make Foundation’s programmes are made possible by the efforts of kind hearted people and school students in New Zealand. Knowing others care about their future is an inspiration and great encouragement to the children who took part in this project.”

The Jounieh scholarship programme follows Make Foundation’s first project in Lebanon two years ago. It was made possible thanks to the creativity and massive fundraising efforts from the staff and students at Hataitai School,  Wellington High School, Capital Mosaic, Vogelmorn community group and many others. Thank you all.

Make Foundation is looking for ways to make its book series available as a print-on-demand online product. We’ll keep you posted on progress and would love to hear from anyone who can help with this effort.

Make FoundationMusic scholarships – Jounieh, Lebanon
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Just Want Home – Naba’a, Lebanon


A music project for Syrian refugee children

We are delighted to announce that Make Foundation is launching its first music project in Lebanon for Syrian refugee children.

This has come about after numerous fundraising concerts, community events and school projects in New Zealand that have involved nearly 300 students and the work of many generous volunteers.

Just Want Home – Naba’a kicks off on Saturday 17 June. Naba’a is located in the district of Bourj Hammoud in Beirut’s northeast. The area has been a home to refugees for over a century. First to Armenians fleeing persecution in 1915 and most recently to Syrians escaping the civil war in their homeland.

The project will be realised in partnership with the Orthodox Youth Movement (OYM), a faith-based NGO that has been supporting Syrian refugees on the ground in Lebanon and Syria for several years. The OYM has facilitated Make Foundation’s contact with Syrian refugee families in north-east Beirut and has generously offered its premises at Naba’a’s Cross Church as a project base and rehearsal space.

Two Syrian musicians, flautist Joumane Abdallah and opera singer Pierre Alkhoury will facilitate Just Want Home – Naba’a, while OYM’s Fadia Keedy will provide logistical support.

Some 30 refugee children aged between 10-15 years will take part in the 10-week programme that will culminate in a concert for family, friends and the local community.

Like its sister projects in New Zealand, Just Want Home – Naba’a will explore the concept of home.

The children come from different backgrounds and different parts of Syria, but they all know what it is to have to leave home and go in search of a new one, says Pierre Alkhoury. 

Music can be a positive channel to explore such a challenging experience and we hope they have some fun in the process.

We’ll keep you posted throughout the project. Thank you to everyone that has supported our work. You made this possible

Make FoundationJust Want Home – Naba’a, Lebanon
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Leaving Home – Multimedia Project

Seaton School’s ‘Leaving Home’ project got off to a great start with a visit from 11-year old Rama Awad from the Syrian city of Homs and a performance of ‘Just Want Home’ by Naia Alkhouri and Megan Prentice.

This senior syndicate project will explore the Syrian refugee crisis through a variety of creative mediums and culminate in a fundraising event for Make Foundation’s projects.

Make Foundation’s Michel Alkhouri gave some background to the crisis and spoke to the students about the project’s aims and Make Foundation’s work before introducing Rama.

Rama came to New Zealand with her parents, older brother and sister earlier this year after living in Cairo, Egypt for nearly three years as refugees.

Rama told the students about her family’s long journey to a safe haven. First fleeing Homs for Damascus, then Raqqa and Deir Atiyah and eventually onto Egypt as violence followed their movements within Syria.

Rama said she was very happy living in Wellington, studying at Te Aro Primary School and meeting new friends, but still missed Syria and her home in Homs.

This week students will be looking more closely at Rama’s story and responding to it through the arts. Make Foundation wishes Seaton School all the best in their creative journey and we are so thankful for your commitment to undertake this learning.

Leaving Home Fundraising Event

Seatoun School’s ‘Leaving Home’ fundraising event was a poignant end to a 5-week programme of learning about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Using art, poetry, music, dance and film, senior syndicate students showcased the treacherous journeys many Syrians face in their search for safety.

The evening event even featured Syrian dishes cooked by the students with the help of volunteers Jihan Swedan, Nahreen Awas, Valentina Dias and Susan McCauley.

Many of the creative works echoed the story of Rama Awad, an 11-year old Syrian girl who shared her personal journey with the students at the project’s start.

Rama retold her moving story with the wider community at the event – no small feat for the Te Aro Primary School student who has been learning English for less than a year.

One artwork literally retraced Rama’s steps from the Syrian city of Homs, through other parts of the country before she and her family fled to Egypt and their final refuge – New Zealand.

Other works reflected on the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing that many Syrian refugees attempt.

Water everywhere. We will be paddling till we die.

By Henry

Refugee. Tired, scared, running, fleeing, escape. Always trying to escape. Help.

By Sol

Just like other Make Foundation projects – ‘Just Want Home’, St Francis de Sales School; ‘What Is Home’, Island Bay School and our current project ‘Hear My Voice’, Wellington East Girls College – Seatoun School’s ‘Leaving Home’ project owed its success to the support and commitment of the school community, staff, students, parents and volunteers.

Thank you Seatoun for your generosity and support to Make Foundation’s project for Syrian children in Lebanon. We’ll start planning for this in the New Year once ‘Hear My Voice’, our final project in Wellington for the year, is completed

Special thanks to the amazing Leaving Home volunteer team:
Ruth Prentice: project facilitator
Andreas Lepper : drums
Ella Burge : dance
Valentina Dias : cooking
Nahreen Awas: cooking
Jihan Swedan: cooking
Susan McCauley : cooking
Karen Millar: cooking
Claire Mortelier : art
Jessica Hallett : art
Birgit Krippner : photography
Lara Gilks : photography
Rama Awad: story teller
Megan Prentice: music
Naia Alkhouri: music

Make FoundationLeaving Home – Multimedia Project
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Cooking Up A Friendship

Much is lost when people flee their homes in the face of war, persecution or natural disaster. But cultures are resilient and emerge afresh in the new lands their carriers journey through.

For many migrants and refugees, it is the rhythms, textures and aromas of their past that strengthen fresh roots and a sense of belonging in new their homes. 

In a city as diverse and vibrant as Wellington, new cuisines can open doors on unexplored cultures and rich stories. 

It’s these stories that are the inspiration behind ‘Welcome Home’. Logan Brown’s Wellington on a Plate event which runs over 8 evenings between Tues16th – Fri 26th Aug. 

As part of his research Head Chef Shaun Clouston visited the homes of migrants from Myanmar, Iran and Egypt. And when he contacted Make Foundation co-founders Michel Alkhouri and Michelle Carlile-Alkhouri in search of Syrian chefs, a new door opened and he quickly found himself co-hosting the charity’s ‘Cooking Up A Friendship’ day. 

“I knew Make Foundation had been working on creative projects with schools and refugees in response to the Syrian crisis and when Michel told me about their plans for a skills exchange we both saw an opportunity to combine the two projects. Pretty soon after that we were sitting around a table with Michelle, the charity’s other director, eating home-made hummus and planning out the day, the dishes and the feast it would culminate in.”

“The idea was to create an opportunity to learn, share and come together with new friends with the intent of creating at least one skill-exchange opportunity for each participant by the end of the day,” says Michel.

Eight Syrian, Iraqi & Kiwi women made up the small gathering alongside Shaun, Michel and a bunch of amused children who mucked in to hurry proceedings along. 

“Seeing these very capable, strong, skilled women in their element, delegating, tasking, sharing their knowledge and making new connections was a joyful sight,” adds Michelle

Cooking Up A Friendship is already reaping benefits for its participants. Head Chefs Shaun and Mona are preparing Logan Brown’s kitchen for the culinary delights that will make up ‘Welcome Home’, and the Kiwi women who attended are teaching their new Syrian friends how to drive. 

But that’s not all, as well as creating new friendship opportunities, the day of learning, sharing and celebration strengthened friendships already in the making. Tima, Michelle, Nahreen and the kids  – Samo, Carlos, Luis, Luka and Naia  – went to the zoo. They’re now planning their next adventure. 


Make FoundationCooking Up A Friendship
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What Is Home? – Art Project

After five Syrian refugees shared their poignant stories of fleeing their homes, imaginations are ablaze among students participating in What Is Home? a collaborative art project between Island Bay School and Make Foundation.

Children taking part have been introduced to Syria’s history, geography, food and culture, written variations on the shared stories and explored character and narrative journeys with the help of live music.

Attention has now moved to painting story illustrations after Seaton-based artist Nicola Dench led a master-class.

The project’s goal is to produce illustrated storybooks to raise funds for our music project for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

You can donate to this project here.


Five weeks in and 119 paintings later!

What Is Home? art project students at Island Bay School, Wellington have let loose their creativity, empathy and enthusiasm. The result is a vibrant collection of artwork and narratives based on stories shared by Syrian refugees who recently celebrated their first year in New Zealand as ‘Kiwis’.

Make Foundation volunteers, including artist Nicola Dench (The Clay Penguin studio) and musician Ruth Prentice (Balkanistas), helped facilitate a series of workshops. Other volunteers, including photographer Nathalie Robert-Peillard and film-maker/photographer Sebastian Brown helped record the process.

Teachers as well as students have engaged and brought a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm to the project. Teacher Lizzie Waipara said her class has been excited since the onset.

From a teaching point of view it’s been a reaffirmation about the power of art.

That is something The Learning Connexion School of Creativity and Art understands well, where creative exploration is encouraged within a social learning context.

We are very grateful for The Learning Connexion’s support with this project. The school donated art supplies so the children could have their own creative exploration.

Come and see what the year 3-4 students produced after hearing moving and inspirational tales of life in pre-war Syria and challenging journeys to a new life in New Zealand.


WHAT IS HOME? FUNDRAISING ART EXHIBITION – Syrian refugee stories illustrated and re-told by Island Bay School students

You are invited to celebrate the completion of Make Foundation’s What Is Home? art project with Island Bay School.

When: Thursday 7th April at 6.30pm – 7.30pm
Where: Island Bay School hall, 6 Thames Street, Wellington
What’s happening: An exhibition of paintings and stories inspired by personal refugee experiences, original songs from young musicians who took part in an earlier music project on a similar theme.
Who’ll be there: Young artists/storywriters from year 3-4 and the teachers who worked with them, Syrian refugees/new Kiwis who shared their stories and inspired the artwork, young Wellington musicians who have written songs on the plight of Syrian refugee children, school staff, Make Foundation volunteers and founders Michelle Carlile-Alkhouri and Michel Alkhouri.

Following the exhibition, book designer Anna Brown and senior lecturer at Massey University’s School of Design will make books from the paintings and stories. Wakefields Digital has generously offered to scan these ahead of print. Proceeds from the books will help fund a music project in Lebanon for Syrian refugee children.

Make FoundationWhat Is Home? – Art Project
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Tech connection

This week Google announced it’s donating $5.3 million towards online access for refugees in Germany.

The tech giant’s charitable arm,, is partnering with NetHope to launch Project Reconnect, an initiative that will supply 25,000 Chromebooks to nonprofit organisations, so that refugees can access education and other online resources.

Make Foundation knows how vital technology is in supporting refugees learn a new host language and other skills they need to work, study and assimilate into their new environment. Late last year we teamed up with e-Learning, Porirua to co-host a Google Apps workshop for Wellington’s newly arrived Syrian refugee community.

Red Cross staff and volunteers helped transport participants from Wellington to Porirua. This generous support meant 24 people were able to take part in the day’s learning and community gathering.

ibrahim-and-student copytim-on-google-hangouts copy

For many, it was their first encounter with Google Apps, so the facilitators, e-Learning’s tech gurus Ibrahim Raouf-Morton and Tim Davies-Colley, focused on demonstrating useful apps to support daily life such as Gmail, Maps, Hangouts.


17-year-old Katia Restom said she really enjoyed the workshop and got a lot out of it.

For me it was an opportunity to consolidate the knowledge I already had and try out apps I hadn’t explored yet. For other people like my mum and dad, it was a really good introduction to apps that can help them build confidence in their new environment.

And what Syrian gathering would be complete without a shared meal? There was plenty for everyone and the cleaning up offered another opportunity to highlight the inclusive nature of Kiwi kitchens where all are welcome to participate!

washing-dishes copy

Make FoundationTech connection
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Winter Wonderland Festival

Capital E, Wellington’s creative hub for kids, is kindly supporting Make Foundation’s projects this Christmas through the hosting of

workshops and selling of advent calendars. Make Foundation’s concert programme from the ‘Just Want Home – Wellington’ project

features in a Scandinavian Christmas Festival taking place on:

Date: Saturday 12 December

WhereCapital E Central, Queens Wharf, Wellingtonwinter-wonderland copy

Time: 12pm-2.30pm

The programme features songs written by the project’s 24

participants, all students from St Francis de Sales School.

As well as performances on Capital E’s festival stage,

there will be craft stalls, games and food trucks,

so come along if you’re in town and join in the fun.

The following weekend Make Foundation is hosting

three workshops based on the theme, ‘What Is Home?

Here are the details and times:

Musicians: Michel Alkhouri, Alan Burden, Tim Barrie, Liz Merton

A trainee art therapist: Mary G William

Date: Saturday 19 December

WhereCapital E Central, Queens Wharf, Wellington

Crowdsongwriting – Time: 10pm-11am

Syrian Music – Time: 11:30pm-12.30pm

Drawing Workshop (AGE 6+) Time: 1:30pm-2:30pm

Thank you Capital E. We are very honoured and grateful for your generous support to our projects and vision.


Merry Christmas!


Make FoundationWinter Wonderland Festival
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Just Want Home – Music Project

St Francis de Sales school in Wellington, New Zealand has joined Make Foundation’s Just Want Home project.

Just Want Home – Wellington, is a collaborative music and song-writing workshop involving 24 students from years 4-8.

The workshop is made up of 20 hours of music tuition and culminates in a fundraising concert for Just Want Home – Refugee Camp, a similar project Make Foundation is developing for young Syrians living in refugee camps. St Francis de Sales principal Steve Douglas says,

It is a unique opportunity to connect New Zealand school students with some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

As well as raising awareness about the impact of Syria’s war on children and families, Make Foundation believes it is an opportunity to develop empathy and greater understanding for those whose lives are shattered by war.

It is also an occasion where the children taking part can realise their own creative voice.

We will keep you updated on this project.

Just Want Home Wellington – Two Weeks In

Two weeks in and Just Want Home – Wellington is pounding with rhythm and sound. Some 24 young participants have dived into the collaborative process with their creative energy, individual spirits and enthusiasm.

Three groups have formed, the 11-12-year-old-girls, the 11-12-year-old-boys and the mixed 8-10-year-olds. Each group is writing lyrics and music around the theme of What Is Home?

Saad Jolakh, a 23-year old Syrian who fled the war and is now living in Wellington, came to talk about his experience of living under siege in Aleppo, Syria’s largest and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.

Saad’s talk and Q&A session afterwards helped the participants understand what it means to escape ones home because of war. All groups are drawing on this in their song lyrics.

Facilitator Michel Alkhouri says it’s inspiring to see such collaboration and creativity take place.

Each group has come up with a way of working very quickly. The girls exchange lots of ideas and have loud debates, but it’s clearly getting them results. They’ve already finished their song and are now polishing it. The boys were very quick to agree on a style of music and are currently building on their lyrics. The youngest group is very expressive and mainly needs support in moving away from a story-writing form to a song-writing form.

After the school break the participants have two more weeks to complete their work and rehearse ahead of a fundraising concert at St Francis de Sales Church, Island Bay, Wellington on 22 October at 7pm.

Please come and join us.

Just Want Home Wellington – Concert Countdown

As Just Want Home – Wellington enters its fourth and final week we’re counting down to Thursday’s concert.

Over the school break the students rehearsed and recorded three of their songs at The Surgery Studio a great learning experience and lots of fun.

They also met Mohi and his sister Nebal, an encounter that brought home the significance of their efforts.

The encounter clearly inspired Mohi too.

He told his mum and dad,

I want to be a musician just like them when I grow up.

Last week – week three of the project – the students performed

in front of the school. Another great milestone that provided

lessons to work on ahead of the concert.

Here are the concert details:

WHERE: St Francis de Sales Church, 173 Clyde St, Island Bay, Wellington

WHEN: Thurs, Oct 22, 7:00-8:00pm

PRICE: Make a donation at the concert or directly here

Hope to see you there.


Make FoundationJust Want Home – Music Project
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Just Want Home – Refugee Camp

Just Want Home – Refugee Camp is a music project for children displaced by Syria’s war.

We’re fundraising for Just Want Home – Refugee Camp and building links on the ground to deliver workshops to displaced children living in hardship with their families outside Syria. We hope this will lay the foundation for ongoing music tuition for those who take part in the workshops.

The seed of the project grew from a song of the same name written by Naia Alkhouri in December 2013 when she was 10-years old.

Naia lives with her family in Wellington, New Zealand. She wrote Just Want Home after taking part in a school inquiry programme about Syria’s civil war and its impact on children and their families.

Michel Alkhouri, Make Foundation’s co-founder, facilitated the inquiry programme. “The students learned about other kids just like them who were experiencing extreme hardship such as losing their homes, suffering from injuries or seeing family members and friends killed. They were very moved by what they learned and that was evident in the end-of-project performance where they sang a song in Arabic for the children whose lives had been shattered by the war.”

With that war now in its fifth year and over four million refugees having fled Syria, returning home looks increasingly unlikely. Bringing a sense of home to those who have lost theirs is core to Make Foundation’s mission, but What Is Home?

A home is where you feel safe. Music awakens in us our most profound safety, the safety of living in concert with each other and our own selves.
Michael Rossato-Bennett, writer, director, producer Alive Inside

Make Foundation doesn’t have bricks or mortar, but its Just Want Home project can bring the sanctuary of music to Syrian children living in refugee camps.

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said,

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.

Let’s support that for Syrian children.


Make FoundationJust Want Home – Refugee Camp
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