by Teddy Rodger
The Fund for the Future of our Children and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, with SFS’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (The Lab), presented “Children’s Voices for the Children of Yemen: A Concert for Awareness and Hope” at the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Gonda Theater on May 12, 2018.
This concert used music, dance, and spoken work to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Yemen and offer messages of piece and hope. Avideh Shashaani, President of the Fund for the Future of our Children, and SFS Dean Joel Hellman welcomed audiences to the event, which Dean Hellman said aimed to demonstrate the human impact of Yemeni current events.
“What we’ve seen in this most extraordinary era is that data and quantitative style of reasoning is not moving and impacting publics,” said Hellman. “But what’s most important to try to bring new attention and new engagement to these conflicts and this suffering is to humanize these conflicts.”
The event brought together local and international talent—and featured professional artists performing alongside nascent talent. Celebrated Yemeni singer and oud player Abdulrahman al-Akhfash performed with a group of Yemeni-American children whose families connected in preparation for this event and who plan to meet regularly going forward to stay in tune with their cultural heritage. Other guests included students from Al Fatih Academy and Mokhtar Alkhanshali, founder of Port of Mokha Coffee and the Mokha Foundation.
The concert, which featured acts from both Northern and Southern Yemen, was moving and informative in equal measure. One audience member later wished that “the world could see this demonstration of pride in Yemeni culture and the longing of Yemeni Americans for peace for their homeland.”