Musicians in Solidarity for Refugee Children

Author: Adrienn Csepelyi Original title: Összefogtak a zenészek a menekült gyerekekért
Publication: Date: 19:26 05/09/2015

Musicians in Solidarity for Refugee Children

Within just half a day, more than 500 musicians and figures from the music industry joined the Facebook group launched by singer Anna Pásztor, which was established to aid refugee children, and then outgrew itself wildly.

Musicians, singers, radio hosts and music critics, journalists, managers and roadies. The whole thing is like a Live Aid concert transplanted into daily practice, where instead of heart-wrenching songs, good deeds are at the forefront: the Hungarian music industry has not seen solidarity of this scale for a long, long time.

Just like a perfectly working beehive, in which everyone has her/his own task. Those working on site in the transit zone signal what there is need of, and those who are unable to come out go into action behind their computers. Some hunt for cheap baby-carriages on auction sites, others collect clothing and blankets from members of the group, and still others are able to provide legal advice about refugee issues to their perplexed musician colleagues.

Ági Szalóki and Bea Palya sing for the refugees in the transit zone, but many other members of the group also go out with their instruments and voices to make the days of those waiting around the stations just a little bit more tolerable. World-famous drummer and journalist Balázs Pándi is there on the first bus that takes the refugees to the Austrian border – as a member of the group he enlivens a photo report.

Some donate the profits of their concerts, others ask the VIPs on their guest lists for donations. With the funds collected, members of the group buy food, water and medicine. Rock and heavy metal bands, jazz singers and electronic music DJs arrange things together, in incredible harmony.

On Friday, there was a minor hitch: all of the storage space of Migration Aid was filled, so that it seemed that until they could sort and distribute all their donations, they would be unable to accept any more packages. The group went into organisation overdrive. The good news reached their Facebook page soon enough: Zsolt Nagy, one of the owners of Dürer Kert (music venue – trans.) made a part of the building that was not being used available for the purpose.

The music community prepared for to clean the space on Saturday morning at 10. First they determined who had an industrial vacuum cleaner, and then found those who could transport the machine to the site.

The halls of the former girls’ seminary (and later people’s college) had stood abandoned for nearly a decade – there was a door with a lock to be cut off, as no one had a key for it any longer – and you can imagine what the dust was like. Balázs Bihari (also a musician: frontman of the band Hippikiller, as well as being communications director of Dürer Kert, and also the brains behind the storage idea) is co-ordinating the work, directing the crew, if necessary, getting disinfectant, bringing refreshments for those sweeping and spitting from the dust, and of course, reporting on the events to the group.

In the beginning, the work seemed pretty hopeless: 250 square metres of concentrated dirt. Then the working hands started to multiply: someone could only spare half an hour from their (working) day, and yet they came, while there are others who were still running a half-marathon on Saturday night but didn’t want to shirk their duty. Next to me, an 8-year-old boy is maniacally vacuuming dust bunnies. Every helping hand is needed: in the afternoon, a few completely packed cars and a Polish lorry will arrive, but even before that, members of the group are bringing donations, one after the other. When we have finished with the heavy packages, one of the drivers returns with a few hot pizzas in hand.

Soon Anna Pásztor arrives, who is not only the frontwoman of the band Anna & the Barbies but also of this group. She sizes up the situation in a few minutes, thanks to the cleaning brigade for their work, and she is already starting back out on the road, to bring back to Keleti station the baby carriages that were left behind by the refugees already on their way in Austria. As it is Saturday, all of the vans belonging to the bands are at work, and she could not scare up any free vehicle. But Anna does not despair: there are still a few hours before they have to leave for the concert, and if they take everything out of the band’s bus, they can still make one trip with it.

And within moments, Englishmen covered in tattoos line up behind the van: Anna persuaded the star act of the evening’s rock festival to help with the packing and unpacking. And just a few minutes later, the singer is already dashing toward the highway – and so as not to waste any time, she telephones and writes messages on Facebook, once again thanking the cleaning crew.

The group – which is just 3-days-old – has 740 members by Saturday night.


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