#ArtIsMyLife | Sarah

“When I am singing I feel that I am praying”

We hold Goshen in our arms. He lays his head on our shoulders and observes the world around him. He does not complain. Although he is only 5 months old, he is very calm, like his mother, Sarah. The time passes by and he falls asleep. We realize that this child grows up with a lot of love. Goshen was born in Greece. If the Greek nationality was not given by blood, he would be considered Greek. Sarah comes from Congo. She was eight months pregnant when she arrived in our country.

Sarah is one of the three women of a five-member band, that was formed by the Congolese community in Volvi accommodation scheme. She is only 20 years old, but she does not seem carefree like any other girl of her age. She is a single mother and a refugee. She is quite shy, but at the same time very dynamic and courageous. She traveled alone and despite the difficulties she managed to come to Greece in September 2017. She studied to become a teacher, but she really loves to sing. “I was singing at the church during the liturgy for over 10 years. But at home I was singing different songs”, says Sarah, who prefers gospel music. We ask her who her favorite artists are. “I really like Michele Sardou from France, M’bilia Bel from Congo and Beyoncé”, she replies.

The Congolese community of Volvi created its own church. Following their tradition, they use hymns as prayer. Gospel has roots in the black tradition. It is influenced by the spirituals and the blues. “One day, Richard, who is our pastor, invited me to sing with them”, Sarah tells us. The chorus evolved, new members were added, and a music band was created. “It is not so easy to find a name -for the band- that covers all the trends. We sing gospel but Moria sings different kind of songs. If we continue to sing, we will find one name eventually”, she explains us. The relationships among the band-members are very good. They complement each other. Therese is the most diligent. She is the one who motivates them and tell them to rehearse their songs. Richard is the “leader” of the band. We really wonder how it feels when singing. “When I am singing I feel that I am praying. Singing for me is linked to praying”, says Sarah.

Sarah has applied for asylum in Greece. She has imagined her life here. She has many dreams, but Volvi constitutes a big obstacle. “Life in Volvi is boring. We cannot do anything here. We only eat and sleep. We cannot even think about our future. Only music is a unique activity for us”, she says. “I want to stay in Greece, to learn Greek and English, so I can communicate. I want to study and find a job. I would like to work as a midwife, and I would like for Goshen to become a lawyer”, Sarah concludes.

*Sarah is a beneficiary of the Child and Family Support Hubs program, which is implemented by SolidarityNow, supported by UNICEF, with funding from the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO).

**The Organisation Internationale De La Francophonie (OIF) finances French language courses for asylum seekers in Athens and Thessaloniki.