From Youphil.com by Marie Dhumières
In Syria, an NGO offers capoeira classes for young Iraqi refugees. Reportage.
It is three hours, a summer afternoon in Damascus in the Christian Quarter of the Old Town. A group of young Iraqi refugees tumble in a room located in the basement of an Orthodox church.
This is only twice a week, they gather for their training capoeira. Most are between 13 and 20 years, they came to Syria after the start of the war in Iraq in 2003. Like most Iraqi refugees in Damascus, they live in the neighborhood of Germana.
The girls, makeup and colored hair, in jeans and tight t-shirts, laugh together. For their part, the boys heckle. They wear fake brand t-shirts or football shirts, have haircuts in fashion. One of them has its fixed mobile headset in his ear.
However, when Bira, the master asks them to sit in a circle, they run without flinching. Before returning with him singing the chorus of Brazilian capoeira, then volunteer to play berimbo (stringed instrument), pandeiro (tambourine) and atabaque (drum).
Capoeira : A non-violent sport
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian sport that mixes music, dance, acrobatics and ritualized fighting. It is a sport non-violent and there is, in fact, no fighting, no shots, no winners or losers.
"Capoeira originated in Africa, is an instrument of resistance, but also learning to respect others, and a method of social integration," said Bira.
These courses are set up by the Syrian CapoeirArab organization, founded in August 2007. The organization also offers courses for children of capoeira Palestinian refugee camps of Al-Tanf border between Iraq and Syria. Every two weeks for about six months, the team goes into camp for the weekend.
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"It's a desert, there was nothing there, nothing doing, the children were kept in the tents, remembers Musa, practicing capoeira for twelve years and has participated in the project. At first, only Some children took part in the activities, others were too timid and stayed in their corner. "
Patrizia Giffoni, a psychologist who participated in the project, said that capoeira was a "huge impact" on children of Al-Tanf. "Some children had serious symptoms: nightmares, withdrawal into themselves, etc.."
According to families, "these symptoms improved drastically from when the children started capoeira," she notes. The sport helps children express their anger and frustration smoothly, "says she.
"In the end, they were all involved, parents were watching, and the children begged to stay longer," says Moussa.
Passionate, teens are also Iraqi. In Damascus, in the small Orthodox church, they play the game Of themselves, the students repeat the movements in pairs and call professors to look at them.
"It'sa good way to release its energy," said Valentina, 17, who practices capoeira for a year. And then the acrobatic moves, it's really cool, "Ziko said the youngest. They know the names of the movements and learn the lyrics in Portuguese.
Capoeira is a universal language.
Supported by UNICEF, UNRWA, the UNHCR and the Brazilian Embassy in Syria, the NGO wants to expand in other parts of the world, and continue to work with disadvantaged children or refugees. "It is a model that is flexible, which can be exported, Lebanon, Palestine, Kenya, and elsewhere," concludes Ummul Choudhury, director of organizational development.