Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 11:56 UK
Music therapy for Bethlehem orphans
Liz Coombes - copyright Phil Mansell
Liz says music can help children and adults express themselves

A lecturer from the University of Newport is off to the Middle East to help children traumatised by war.

Liz Coombes will spend six weeks at the SOS Children's Village in Bethlehem teaching social workers and other carers how to use music in their work.

She hopes she can help children affected by the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

"They need an outlet through which they can express themselves positively and in a non-violent manner," she says.

"Using music therapeutically in groups and with individuals can help children explore their difficulties safely and creatively," she adds.

"I'm very excited about this project and a little nervous, too, as the challenges of working in a beleaguered community will be different from those I have faced before.

"I'm looking forward to exploring the possibilities of music-making with the children, but more importantly sharing skills with local people, and enabling them to feel a sense of ownership in this work.

"Respecting and working with cultural differences will be very important in building good relationships with all involved with the project."

Liz, from Cardiff, is a visiting lecturer in Creative Therapies in Education at the university's School of Education.

The new BA Honours degree course, which trains students to work as creative arts practitioners, is said to be the only one of its kind in Wales.

Course leader Hebe Alloun said students would benefit directly from Liz's experience in the Middle East.

"The work Liz is doing in Bethlehem mirrors the work our students will be doing when they leave and it's so important for students to learn about work in the community and in other cultures," she said.

"When she returns, Liz will be bringing her work in Bethlehem to life in the course through lectures and workshops."

Liz will be leaving for Bethlehem in October and students will be able to follow her activities through video links to her blog on the School of Education website.




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