Empowerment through music

B-roll: From child labour to the Presidential Palace

Lebanon has a new children’s choir – but this is a choir with a difference. All its members have, at some point in their lives, engaged in child labour – some in its worst and most hazardous forms. The choir is made up of Lebanese as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugee children. The choir’s first performance at the Presidential Palace in Baabda on the outskirts of the capital Beirut was attended by the President of Lebanon Michel Aoun.

Date issued: 22 March 2018 | Size/duration: 02:45
Late last year, the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) and Lebanon’s Ministry of Labour teamed up with Maestro Sahab, together setting up the National Choir against Child Labour, to empower children and give them a voice through music. The Ministry of Culture and the National Higher Conservatory of Music also support the initiative as part of efforts to implement Lebanon’s National Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

The choir’s first performance at the Presidential Palace in Baabda on the outskirts of the capital Beirut was attended by the President of Lebanon Michel Aoun, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, international diplomats, UN agency representatives, and members of civil society organizations.

Globally, ILO figures estimate that between the years 2000 and 2016, the world saw a net reduction of 94 million children in child labour. Some 152 million girls and boys were engaged in child labour in 2016, accounting for almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide. Nearly half of them are engaged in hazardous work: work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.

Location & dates:
Akkar, Lebanon (15th March 2018) Beirut, Lebanon (20th March 2018).
Natural sound (sound bites in Arabic)
Copyright ILO - ILO audio-visual material is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 IGO license
Video type:
child labour, Syrian refugees


00:00 – 00:03
Establishing of refugee settlement, Akkar, Northern Lebanon
00:03 – 00:07
Girls walk towards refugee tent entrance
00:07 – 00:12
Wide shot, choir master and conductor Selim Sahab seated at piano auditions child
00:12 – 00:16
Medium shot, Maestro Sahab seated at piano auditioning young girl singing
00:16 – 00:30
Omar, former child labourer (in Arabic):
“Music is an essential thing in my life. It makes me express what's in my heart, things that are paining me. When I sit alone and I sing, I feel that everything in my heart that's bothering me comes out.”
00:30 – 00:54
Selim Sahab , choirmaster and conductor (in Arabic):
“I believe that music is one of the most powerful of the so-called soft forces – even though music is very strong, and not soft at all - as it has a huge emotional impact on the children's psychological state.”
00:54 – 01:03
Frank Hagemann, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Arab States (in English):
"This is not about entertainent, it's about empowering, empowering children through music, giving them back their dignity."
01:03 – 01:19
Leila Assi, Head of Child Labour Unit at Beyond Association (in Arabic):
“These are children who used to work or still work and who are enrolled in the centre. Through the choir, we are trying as much as we can to raise their voices as high as possible so that they can advocate for this cause.”
01:19 – 01:23
Wide shot, children from the choir at Presidential Palace in Baabda, on outskirts of Beirut.
01:23 – 01:30
Medium shot, girl put on their gowns at the Presidential Palace
01:30 – 01:38
Medium shot, children from choir enter concert venue
01:38 – 01:41
Wide shot, President of Lebanon Michel Aoun walking in and audience applauding.
01:41 – 02:03
Michel Aoun, President of Lebanon (in Arabic):
“Today’s children are tomorrow’s men and women. They may need our support and protection today, but we and our nation and our society will need their support and protection tomorrow.”
02:03 – 02:37
Various shots choir sing and concert venue
02:37 – 02:44
Medium shot, audience applause and President Michel Aoun applauds