Qosay is a 15-year-old Syrian refugee who grew up in a town near Homs called Qusayr with his parents and younger sister. Three years ago, his father was killed and the family was forced to flee. Today, the family lives in a tented settlement in the North of Lebanon where he has found a new passion – hip-hop.
Qosay leads a hip-hop group called The Homsies with two other teen boys and two girls. Aid worker Tony Collin discovered the group and started mentoring them, teaching them how to express themselves and write their own lyrics set to music. Coliln hails from Scotland where he founded a charity called Mishwar Amal which aims to help Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon develop their talents.
“My friend Arwa and I saw rappers singing on YouTube and liked it a lot and we decided we wanted to try,” says 14-year-old band-mate, Hiyam, who is also Oosay’s sister. “We love the idea of using our songs to send a message to the world. We want to tell the world that it’s true that we’re Syrian and we have been forced to leave our country but we won’t give up and we will never stop doing what we love.”
Songs are currently available for download at Mishwar Amal’s website – half the profits go to the charity and the other half goes to the group. So far, the group has earned $300, a significant sum for the teens.
Qosay says he wants the world to know that his home-town, Qusayr, was once a beautiful city. “It had everything. But now it has nothing. Everything has been destroyed by shelling and bombardments, but one day it will be rebuilt. We want to send a message of peace and of love.”
On that powerful note, here’s a sample lyric from one of their songs:
Oh, Qusayr! Oh, you proud city.
Oh, you spring of freedom. I miss you so much.
We’ve had enough of humiliation and poverty.
I miss hanging around in your streets and sleeping in your hands.