Twitter Facebook LinkedIn YouTube

Bashar Hanna

The Choir of Love

The Choir of Love began in 2004 at St Therese’s Catholic Church in Fairfield Heights. In 2009, the choir changed from being a small church based choir to one that was independent and attracted people from three different Iraqi descendants - Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs.

In 2012, the Choir of Love entered partnership with STARTTS, an organisation that deals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since then we’ve started to do projects with the community to attract people from refugee backgrounds to come and sing with us for love and peace.

In 2014, I had the courage to invest my life savings in opening an office called Arts and Community Development in the heart of Fairfield. This office attracted many organisations that started called us to perform at their event. We do theatrical performances, participate in huge festivals and we produce educational materials as well.

We now have expanded to two teams - The Choir of Love, which stayed the same with spiritual hymns, and the Peacemakers, which has three divisions and is multi-faith, multi-gender and multicultural.

The group means a lot in our community because of the diaspora, we all need family. I have my own family which is my wife and children. However, I was missing my mother and siblings who were elsewhere around the world so I thought by creating this Choir, I was creating a new family. I succeeded in that because we love each other like brothers and sisters. We can do everything for each other as a family. We support each other in the good times and bad.

I’ve also worked in the settlement program for three years. I was exposed to refugee struggles when they arrived here to resettle. I could see the language barriers, social exclusion and the culture differences holding them back. They were isolated in their houses and they would only go to the areas where they could speak their language.

So by them being in the choir, we encourage them to learn English. We get them to meet people from different organisations and different cultures in our festival. This enhances their settlement and they feel included. Many people when they joined my choir had severe anxiety and PTSD. Now they do public speaking, some of them have finished university, others are in the workforce, it’s a huge improvement. We use art for positive social change!