A tailor from Syria with an extraordinary voice
Photo: Damien Hyde
With instruments in hand, it took just half an hour from our first steps into the camp to find Mohealdeen; a tailor from Syria with a diploma in Arabic, multiple certificates and awards from his professional work and a qualification in music. His voice was immediately impressive and his manner warm and generous.
"Singing makes me happy because I am making others happy. Whenever there's someone encouraging me my voice comes out even better. They inspire my own performances. My whole family was like that. We used to host parties at my parents' house and my brothers, sisters and I would sing together. We had different voice ranges and tones and we sounded great together".
Louai, previosuly ney (arabic flute) soloist in the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra and Roskar, who played oud in a Kurdish TV music band before moving to London in 2001 joined forces with Mohealdeen and his talented darbuka drummer friend Ismail. The four Syrians, two living in London and two currently in the 'jungle' chatted and played together like old friends.
It didn't take long before they decided to concentrate on a song that Mohealdeen had written in memory of his brother. The singer told Louai that it was his dream of one day collaborating and performing it with other musicians. 24 hours later that song was being recorded in a makeshift recording studio in the camp. That one of his dreams had come to fruition amongst the squalor of the 'jungle' was incongruous and bitter sweet.
"My voice was a gift from god, it wasn't something that I developed. But when someone actually has a talent that they developed themselves I think it's very special. Since I arrived in the jungle camp I've heard stories from the other Syrians that completely changed my perspetive, I thought I had it bad, but honestly, others had it much worse.
I imagine that all people here have amazing talents or abilities that they created and developed. I did not create my ability. I have a good voice because god created me this way. But if you ask me about sewing, I’d tell you that I’m great at it. I’m perfect! The clothes that I used to design and make are wonderful. I used to have quite a wealthy clientele back in Syria and that’s what I intend to do if they allow me to enter the United Kingdom. That’s my story".
"The whole of Europe have opened up their borders except for Britain, and I don’t understand why. Even though we’re arriving from a war zone and we should have priority to enter. And we’re honestly strong people and we have various talents and abilities. We can make a change. I’ve said from day one that I want to be a tailor, so and so wants to be a sculptor, etc. What I mean to say is that no one wants to be a burden. If this is about welfare, we do not need their welfare. I just want to secure my children’s future".