Helena Lloyd saw an opportunity to use her skills as a professional pianist and musician to help the refugee crisis. She came to a “realization that music can make a huge impact on the lives of people who are suffering from trauma and that there wasn’t much going on in this area [the Middle East] with regard to music therapy.” Helena saw this as an opportunity to meld her love of music and her passion for activism as a way a to help make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. This led her to found Harmony of Hope in 2011.

Harmony of Hope is a nonprofit organization that provides both music therapy workshops for children and adults and does high-level training for music teachers at schools in both Iraq and Jordan. Helena says, “We believe as a charity that music therapy can really have a great impact on refugees and allow them to express themselves and to relate to others.” Due to past trauma, some of the refugee children have problems talking or are very shy. They have trouble expressing what they are going through vocally. By providing a way to express themselves musically, they can find an outlet to help deal with what they have been through.

CRP and Harmony of Hope have just begun to partner to teach music to children in the after-school and summer day camp programs. Harmony of Hope has also partnered with many organizations in both Iraq and Jordan including Save the Children and many local schools. Currently in Amman, Helena is working with a disabled school that has a lot of Syrian refugees where she is putting on musical therapy classes. She has also worked with schools in Iraq and even helped train the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq. Many music teachers in Iraq don’t have access to high levels of music training. Harmony of Hope helps fills this void by training these music teachers.

The music therapy classes that Helena is currently doing at CRP revolve around percussion instruments. They use drums “because they are less restrictive” and thus allow participants to better express themselves. It is also easier to learn percussion instruments, then violins or trumpets, which would need more maintenance and hours of practice. Most refugees would not be able to afford these costs. Once given an instrument, even the shyest kids will start to open up “and bit by bit start to regain that confidence and then they can share with others their music and start to talk to other [children] as well.”

Alongside running Harmony of Hope, Helena is also a professional pianist. She keeps a blog on Harmony of Hope’s website about her work in Iraq and Jordan and music therapy.