Humanitarian Bazaar | Focus: Producing Music & Culture Festivals in Tough Places
Humanitarian Bazaar produces projects focused on how peope survive war and disaster.
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Shiine Akhyaar leads Mogadishu Music Festival, Somalia, 2013. DJG.

Photo: Shiine Akhyaar hosts the historic Mogadishu Music Festival in Somalia. Daniel J Gerstle.


Humanitarian Bazaar was proud to produce the historic Mogadishu Music Festival, the first international and public concerts in Somalia’s capitol since the war began. We also produced the Journey of Peace festival in Dadaab refugee camps, Kenya, and co-produced Sound Central, Afghanistan’s first rock and alternative music fest. Cultural events in dangerous areas are not meant to take risks, but to reach out to youth who are already at risk and persuade them away from extremism and violence. Choose your mode and price, and let us know at

Choose your mode and price ===>

A. Online Rapid Course Webinar

$40 = Webinar (2 hours) |  $80 = Webinar+ (2 hrs plus personal call with instructor for personal consultation or to call in to talk to your organization)  |  Free for past HB team.  |  We are currently rewarding donors to our War Survivors Advisory civilian protection project and past HB team members with attendance to our webinars! HB team members of the past can attend online for free. WSA donors who donated $40 or more are invited to choose one webinar as a reward! WSA donors who supported with $80 or more can choose one webinar and also get a direct consultation call with our trainer or a team member for personal advice, solve a question for your career, or call in to give a talk to your class room or organization. Let us know your interest and we will schedule a session with you!  Donate and then let us know which course and your best time frame so we can confirm with the trainer, or you can also plan the webinar first and then donate the day of the webinar session. Let us know at and go here to donate. ===> WSA

B. Full Intensive Training Workshop

$120/person = Weekend Rapid Course with Short Simulation (12 hours, minimum 6 people) or $240/person = Week-Long Intensive Course with Simulation (24 hours, minimum 10 people)  |  Request a full-scale in-person training workshop with practicum at your location! Ask us if there will be a training near you! Sometimes we have a number of people in key places–namely Berlin, Amsterdam, Sarajevo, Nairobi, Istanbul, Kabul, Beirut–who have put in a request and we just wait until we have enough of a group and we can write to you and plan a date, so just let us know your interest at

C. Contract 

$400/day+ transport & lodging for Expert > $150/day+ expenses for local Field Worker/Fixer (depending on location) for Project Implementation, Private Intensive Training, or Field Research. | Hire a trainer, consultant or implementing team to run a full intensive course designed for your organization, or have us build a consulting team on this topic to implement projects with you.

Review Our Curriculum ===>

Part 1  |  Reaching Out to Youth in Tough Places

  • Our team takes trainees behind the scenes of how we produced our successful cultural and youth outreach projects in tough places which were covered by major media and documentary films: The 2013 Journey of Peace festival in the Dadaab refugee camps, Kenya; the 2013 Mogadishu Music Festival, Somalia; the 2013 Rap-Against-Extremism concert in a prisoner-of-war holding center in Mogadishu, Somalia; and the 2011 Sound Central Festival, Kabul, Afghanistan. We also gave some creative advice remotely to the last heavy concert in Aleppo, Syria in 2013.
  • When there is a war, disaster, or difficult social situation, it may not be safe to produce high profile public events for the community, or youth in particular. So producers must take caution to be sure that the mission of the project is believed to be worth the risk by the local host community. That means concerts, dances, plays, poetry readings should probably be held in private settings, especially if local fighting groups threaten musicians.
  • However, if the local community and youth truly believe in the mission of the project and understand the risks, then we plan the event with them. For example, a war-affected community will likely insist that funding meant for a concert or peace rally instead go toward helping alleviate hunger. But if the concert or rally is specifically shaped to persuade youth to help end the war or help protect civilians or alleviate hunger through their own projects, then multiple goals can be achieved.


Part 2  |  Sound Central Festival, Kabul, Afghanistan

  • In 2011, Combat Comms, led by Travis Beard, along with the first four Afghan rock bands–Morcha, Kabul Dreams, District Unknown, and White Page–and guest performers from all over the world produced Afghanistan’s first rock and alternative music festival.
  • With eight concerts in Kabul at a tough time, and two promotional events in New York, producing the festival was quite complex. Relying on cooperation with the government of Afghanistan and allied embassies and institutes, as well as local corporate sponsors, the events were run largely as surprise “stealth events” so that anyone wishing to target the fest would not have much time to plan.


Part 3  |  The Mogadishu Music Festival, Somalia

  • In 2013, Somali hiphop group Waayaha Cusub partnered with Humanitarian Bazaar and UN and other funders to run first the Eastleigh Peace Festival in Kenya and then the Mogadishu Music Festival (also known as the Somali Reconciliation Festival) in Somalia.
  • The festival included Waayaha Cusub as headliners, as well as Kenyan band Kombo Chokwe & Afro Simba, Alsarah (Sudan/US), Ariana Delawari & Band (Afghan/US), Jamir Adiong (Philippines), and more, in six separate concerts as depicted in the documentary, Live from Mogadishu.
  • Security, as in Kabul, but perhaps even more tense, was complex. Concerts had to be run as individual surprise “stealth” events with even security forces only knowing the location and time just hours before the show in order to reduce the capability of wrong-doers to act.
  • The festival included the historic Rap-Against-Extremism concert in the Serendi prisoner-of-war camp in Mogadishu.


Part 4  |  Journey of Peace Festival, Dadaab, Kenya

  • While the Sound Central Festival, Mogadishu Music Festival, and Rap-Against-Violence Concert Mogadishu were complex and risky, producing concerts in the Dadaab refugee camps presented Somali hiphop group Waayaha Cusub and Humanitarian Bazaar yet new challenges.
  • Youth in the camps were excited to see Waayaha Cusub perform and to rally for peace and against extremism. However, terror groups attacked the Westgate Mall, which happened to be near Waayaha Cusub’s base in Nairobi, Kenya, and then attacked other groups in Garissa, near Dadaab, so Kenyan security forces increased patrols of Somali neighborhoods and screening of Somali youth. That meant our shows would be postponed and have to be presented with even more surprise planning.
  • When the festival launched with three surprise concerts and several media events, Dadaab youth were proud and media covered it well. But security prevented large cameras and larger crowds from attending the events. In the end, WC and HB believed it was more effective to run as a local event, on the local level, rather than take the risks of a terror attack with higher profile stars and events.


Part 5  |  So how would you produce an culture or youth outreach event?

  • Lessons HB learned in the field producing culture events in some of the most difficult situations can be brought forward to help trainees plan almost any kind of event.
  • Sharpening the mission for the project is key to signing the right talent to lead.
  • The talent and leadership will then build relationships with partners, promoters, and sponsors. All of this is universal.
  • However, if you are bringing such a mission into a hostile environment, that’s where HB can consult and provide advice whether and how to do it in the safest way possible.

Meet Our Trainer ===>

Daniel J Gerstle  |  Founder & executive director of Humanitarian Bazaar, has served as a filmmaker, humanitarian aid worker, human rights researcher, and war journalist in Africa, West Asia, the Middle East, Caucasus, and the Balkans. More recently, he created Humanitarian Bazaar, formerly known as HELO Media, to produce projects focused on how people survive war and disaster. With Humanitarian Bazaar, he produced the Mogadishu Music Festival (Somalia 2013), Journey of Peace Kenya music festival in Dadaab refugee camp (Kenya 2013), and co-produced the first Afghan rock fest, Sound Central Festival (Afghanistan, 2011). Live from Mogadishu, his first feature length film as director, premieres in summer 2014. Find him at  |

Arrange Your Training ===>

  1. Check here if we already have a webinar or workshop scheduled which you can attend. ===> Training Schedule.
  2. Write us to reserve your space for an existing training or to ask for a training which could be scheduled with you. In the latter case, just let us know what windows of time would work best for you and we will see whether it is best to have others attend together or to have a training personalized for you and/or your organization. ===> 
  3. Right now we are accepting all payments for training as a donation to our War Survivors Advisory civilian protection project, and offering webinars as rewards for such donations, so you can either go right away to donate and let us know that you have done so, or schedule your training and then pay once you are satisfied with the training. The payment/donation button to support the War Survivors Advisory, along with a description of the project, can be found here. ===> Training Payment via War Survivors Advisory.