To help improve the social life of Turkey's Roma community, the "Okullar Hayat Olsun" (Let Schools Give Life) project opens music workshops for Roma students where they can perform together with their family members. More schools in western Edirne province, which has a sizable Roma population, are rolling out the music project to encourage school attendance. The workshops run with the initiative of Edirne National Education Directorate at primary schools, give students the opportunity to form small orchestras with their family members visiting the school on certain days. Both students and their families have rehearsals during the workshops. Some play the darbuka (a kind of drum) and clarinet while others play the keyboard and tambourine.Azize Firdevs, the principal at Meriç Primary School, said the workshops help them integrate into school life. "The orchestra has members of all ages. The students' parents come here for a couple of hours and perform music together. These workshops have also improved their communication," she said. The music group currently has 25 members. The orchestra will soon appear on stage at ceremonies and cultural events.
One of the students, Remzi Çağlar, performs music with her mother. "I want to come to school even on the weekends just so I can perform music," he said. Working as a musician for the last 15 years, Buluş Gölegen joins the group with his son. "I play the drum while my son plays the davul. I quite enjoy the time here," he added. The music workshops have significantly developed the students' academic success. Bahattin Ulusoy of the Balkans Roma Union (BAROM) said that the government implements an action plan to reach out to the underprivileged Roma community and offer them better life conditions.
Known notably for their music skills and colorful life, similar to other countries, the Roma people in Turkey still complain about alienation by the public.
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