In Pursuit of a Dream
A 'son' of SOS Children's Village Qodsaya in Damascus is being heard all over Syria - his compositions made their way to television.
Syrian television viewers would recognise the music compositions of Bassel Kassem as the themes of several widely viewed TV series. Orphaned at a very young age, the 25-year-old musician and composer travelled a long road to reach success and recognition.
"My father was a wealthy man, my family is a large one," Bassel narrates, "My mother was his second wife and she died when I was only nine months old. My father passed away soon after."
When Bassel was three, his father's family - including several half siblings from his father's first marriage who were already grown-up at that time - decided to take him to SOS Children's Village Qodsaya close to Damascus. Although his brothers were well-to-do engineers and doctors, none of them wanted to take care of the small lonely child.
At the SOS Children's Village, Bassel found a home and people to love him and care for him. With the nurturing care of his SOS mother, Bassel soon grew to be a happy and bright child.
Discovering the talent
"I remember that when I was six or seven, a music teacher came to give us lessons at the SOS Children's Village. I loved these lessons so much! I used to spend all my free time practising on the keyboard in the village," he remembers, "When the teacher noticed how much I love music, she started giving me extra lessons."
Eventually Bassel moved to the SOS Youth Facility on the outskirts of Damascus. There he went to high school and completed his secondary education. At the time he also worked in a shop that sells pastries and sweets. Many people advised him to forget about music and just concentrate on making a living. Bassel, however, was determined to pursue his dream and become a musician and composer.
"I used to work extra hours to pay for music classes and to save up to buy a keyboard. It wasn't easy. Everyone thought it was an unrealistic dream and that I wouldn't be able to make a living out of music. But this was what I loved to do, and I wasn't going to give it up," Bassel says.
Making the passion a profession
After much struggle and scraping and saving, Bassel managed to complete a degree at a high institute for musical education and to buy the keyboard. He left his job at the pastries shop and started to play music at restaurants and weddings throughout Damascus.
But his real dream was to to have his own music heard by hundreds of people. He started composing in his free time.
The next challenge was to have music producers take his music and produce it for the public. Bassel presented his compositions to several producers, and eventually one of them was interested. The producer thought the composition would be suitable for a series due to appear on Syrian television.
The big moment
The plan was put into practice and few months later, thousands of Syrian TV viewers heard Bassel's music. "It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I felt that all those difficult times weren't for nothing," Bassel remembers.
Three of Bassel's compositions have been aired on Syrian TV so far. One of them was aired last Mother's Day, a moving composition dedicated to his SOS mother and his biological mother who he never had the chance to meet.
Relevant Countries: Syria.