Members of Asmarina Voices have faced difficult times yet have fantastic uplifting attitudes and show that through their smiles and singing their hearts out every Friday. Asmarina means “united” in Eritrean and that’s exactly what you will get from the women, even after only spending such a short amount of time with them you can immediately see the beautiful souls these strong women possess.Asmarina Voices Women’s singing Group was part of the Welcoming the World programme for West Yorkshire Playhouse’s production of Refugee Boy and received funding from the Home Office to promote wider engagement with the region’s refugees and asylum seekers. The singing group has continued to flourish with women from all over the world coming together, forgetting their troubles and belting out songs.
The group comes together every Friday from 1pm-2pm and runs until the 19th July. They are currently in preparation for their performance for the Wonderful Women of the World at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Friday 21st June at 10.30am-2.30pm as part of 2013’s Refugee Week. Asmarina Voices will be performing Taylor Swift’s Safe & Sound and We Are Family by Sister Sledge.
West Yorkshire Playhouse, alongside with the Refugee’s Council’s Health Befriending Network and the women’s group in Leeds, offer weekly singing sessions for refugee and asylum seeking women with professional artist and musician Sophie Jennings who leads the choir. Sophie says “My idea is to have fun on a Friday and I always feel happy when I leave. Some of these women only come to this during their free time, so I want to continue encouraging them to come and have some time for themselves. The songs we sing have not got too many words so there is no language barrier and it makes the sessions relaxing.”
Shreena Gobey a Youth and Community work student at Leeds Metropolitan University did her placement at West Yorkshire Playhouse and currently helps with the voices singing group. Shreena says “The group is open to everyone; it doesn’t matter if you can’t sing it’s all about enjoying music and having a bit of a social.