Press Release

Earth Drums for Earth Day In IRAQ

"This program shows that drums are weapons of peace," according to Mr. Mohammed Tafiq, director of Kurdistan Save the Children.

As troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq, music is moving in. A program called Ashti Drum, which means "Peace Drum" in Kurdish, is generating great success in conflict resolution, leadership development, youth empowerment, and therapeutic rehabilitation through the simple use of the drum.

Since 2007, author and music therapist, Christine Stevens has been working in Iraq with an inspired American team to train Iraqis in the art of drum circle leadership. In the first music-based conflict resolution training in a war-zone, Stevens trained thirty-eight Iraqis from seven different governances across Iraq in leadership of the drumming programs. The pioneering program was the vision of Melinda Witter. According to one man, "I was amazed to see people from conflicted areas making music together."

This year, Stevens will return to Iraq in April with ethnomusicologist and drum maker Dr. Craig Woodson to expand Ashti Drum programs in Halabja, Darbandi Khan, Sulaymaniyah, and Koya organized by host organization Kurdistan Save the Children. According to Stevens, "We are establishing a model for global diplomacy through music."

For Earth Day, the American team will sponsor Ashti Drum Salam: Planting sees of Peace, bringing together Kurds and Arabs for conflict resolution. Ashti Drum is support by NAMM, REMO Drum Company, Humanity Unites Brilliance and private donors.