Ari Honarvar, our Musical Ambassador from Iran, was invited on CBS Ch8 10:00 news to share her wisdom with regard to the Haitian refugees gathered at the US-Mexico border.

Meanwhile Ari’s healing dance sessions continue in the Tijuana shelter while asylum-seekers in Mexicali await initiation of our programs.

San Diego author, refugee weighs in on Haitian crisis at the Texas border – CBS Ch8
Author: LaMonica Peters (KFMB)
Published: 10:41 PM PDT September 22, 2021
Updated: 10:41 PM PDT September 22, 2021
Ari Honarvar left Iran at 14 years old and now connecting with others who have had a similar experience has become her life’s work.
SAN DIEGO — A local activist from University Heights has written a book based on her childhood experiences in Iran and as a refugee living in the U.S. She held a book signing Wednesday in San Diego and also talked about the recent events involving other refugees from Afghanistan and Haiti.
She says she left Iran at 14 years old and now connecting with others who have had a similar experience has become her life’s work.
Ari Honarvar said when her parents brought her to the United States from Iran, she had no idea they’d soon have to return to their home country without her. She lived with a family in New Mexico before eventually moving to San Diego.
She said writing her book, A Girl Called Rumi, helped her process an experience she’ll never forget.
“It’s a story based on my life when I couldn’t play with my best friend who was a boy because boys and girls could no longer play together but we would have our adventures. This is a story of those adventures,” Honarvar said.
Honarvar runs Gente Unida, an organization that supports refugees. She also said writing, music and dance helped her fight through feelings of sadness and depression. After seeing images of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and thousands of Haitians at the Texas border, she hopes that they too can get the help they need.
“I really want to welcome Afghan refugees and the same with Haitians. Haitians have been through so much for so many decades and we need to do right by them,” Honarvar said.
Dozens of people came out to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego to support Honarvar as she read excerpts from her book. One woman at the book signing, who said she came to the U.S. from Kenya, said she can relate to Honarvar and other refugees trying to find their way.
“I know what it’s like to be in a new place and in a new land, and trying to find your way. So, I’ve connected with this book and Ari because she shares such a similar story of resilience. Just trying to use what you have come through to be your best,” said Carolyne Ouya.
MAP has also contributed to benefit asylum-seekers through this project:
Besides basic necessities, we wanted to support mental health and nurture expressive arts. We provided a TV monitor so one shelter could begin Zoom educational programing and dance sessions. The art supplies were distributed so migrants have the opportunity to start and maintain a creative journal as they wait to be processed by US authorities.
Refugee and asylum-seeking children who were welcomed into the San Diego Convention Center were able to benefit from our regular music dance singing drumming sessions which were designed to help ease their transitions.
All of these kids have now been reunited with family members already in the U.S.  or placed with foster families.
While at the convention center, the girls received meals, medical attention and services like some education, religious services and even dance.
Ari Honarvar is a member of the human rights group Gente Unida and is a Musical Ambassador for Musical Ambassadors of Peace. She was at the convention center the very first night the girls arrived. Since then, Honarvar  visited with the girls many times, hosting healing dance sessions.
Honarvar, is a refugee from the Iran-Iraq war and came to the U.S. without her parents at the age of 14, where she found dancing was therapeutic and helpful in healing from her experiences.
Honarvar says dance has been proven to help in decreasing anxiety, depression, stress and even the effects of PTSD.
Through speaking with the girls, Honarvar says the girls have experienced trauma in their home countries and, or on their journey to the U.S.
Honarvar explains that she ended each dance sessions by telling the girls that they are loved, worthy and precious and to never let anyone tell them otherwise; oftentimes leading to tears at the end of the session.
She ran these dance sessions at the convention center two or three times a week and continued until the girls were no longer housed there.
Above text excerpted from TV Channel 10 News website. Story reported by Laura Acevedo. Posted at 6:36 AM, May 01, 2021 SAN DIEGO (KGTV)

Partnering with Enrique Morones of Gente Unida, Musical Ambassador Ari Honarvar has begin leading regular healing dance events with these children who have fled drug war zones in Central America. These sessions have a tremdous softening effect on the emotional transitions these children have been forced to make.

We train and fund musical ambassadors who travel the world to build cross-cultural bridges, honor and preserve indigenous musical traditions and help heal those traumatized by war.

We have learned to perform musical styles of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Peru, Greece, Turkey, Tadjikstan, Mexico and now Central Africa.

Ari Honarvar interview with Televisa (the largest producer of Spanish content in the world) just aired in Tijuana July 9, 2021 – Part 1

Ari Honarvar interview with Televisa (the largest producer of Spanish content in the world) just aired in Tijuana July 9, 2021 – Part 2

Refugees and asylum seekers from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have made it to the US-Mexico border where many of them must just continue to wait.

Ari Honarvar, our Musical Ambassador from Iran, keeps bringing the healing energies of music and dance into the asylum seekers camps in Tijuana, Mexico. These healing sessions have been happening every week for the last year and a half. Covid-19 hasn’t stopped us. In fact Ari has opened sessions with additional refugee camps as well as managing another personal visit to a weekly dance event where she was showered with love! A camp in Mexicali will begin co-creating our sessions in early July, 2021.

We train and fund musical ambassadors who travel the world to build cross-cultural bridges, honor and preserve indigenous musical traditions and help heal those traumatized by war.

We have learned to perform musical styles of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Peru, Greece, Turkey, Tadjikstan, Mexico and now Central Africa.

Many are fleeing the towns in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala which are now controlled by drug cartels and who will kill if you don’t become one of them so whole families have had to run from home to avoid this near-certain death. 

We are continuing to utilize internet conferencing technologies to keep the healing happening in a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico. Many other shelters have signed up to be included in our healing network.

We call these folks Refugees. Actually they are Displaced Persons seeking Asylum. If they are granted asylum then they will have “refugee” status. They are living in temporary shelters and life is not satisfactory because they cannot really be creative in such circumstances. 
We are doing our best to bring a little healthy joy into their lives. And they do appreciate it!

Social distancing requirements had stopped us dead in our tracks. Our emotional healing programs for refugees in many parts of the world depend on social interaction: singing, drumming, dancing… always together!

Now our Musical Ambassador from Iran, Ari Honarvar, has utilized internet conferencing technologies to keep the healing happening here in a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico where refugees from varied Central American war zones have congregated.

See Parents Magazine Article recently written by our Musical Ambassador from Iran, Ari Honarvar

Children at the Border Need Joy, Just Like Our Kids. So I Bring Them Music

Our new video-conferencing musical events are now beaming into a refugee camp in Mexico filled with people who have fled gang-ruled villages in El Salvador. Our Musical Ambassadors can no longer visit these camps in person with our drums, instruments, singing voices and dancing feet. But the refugees have called back out to us. They are having a very hard time and are missing regular visits from our Musical Happiness Engineers.
Modern technology has enabled us to keep it happening!
With the covid-19 lockdowns all around it is easier for us all to imagine what it is like to be in a refugee camp in Iraq or living under occupation by fundamentalists in Syria or in a family without parents in Uganda.
We can all feel an empathy now and empathy has the language of music. So we keep sending out the love. We take one step at a time. We support each other. We survive. We connect. We do the slow work of change. We share with you our musical work around the world: surviving, building community, connecting people, resolving conflicts, healing the wounds of war.
We are Musical Ambassadors of Peace.
When we go to refugee camps and shelters, we don’t bring music just for fun. We dance to relieve maladies and stress. We sing to build community and feel a sense of belonging no matter where we are. We dance and sing to make our children feel safe. We make good memories for the future. Good memories help us during difficult times. We are one family without borders.
Musical Ambassador Ari Honarvar’s Latest Parents Magazine Article: “Children at the Border Need Joy, Just Like Our Kids. So I Bring Them Music”

Ari Honarvar Posts:

Our musician friend wasn’t there as he and his two children are now going through the asylum process. Buena suerte amigo!

The Tijuana shelter now hosts 180 people escaping violence and death. It’s not always easy to get in a festive mood but when the music takes over, man, it’s wonderful to see people smiling, getting exercise, and connecting with each other. Today was our best day yet♥️

As we facilitate the music sessions, we look for asylum seekers with disabilities and make sure they are included in the celebration. And the children always melt hearts left and right ♥️

This is what World Peace actually looks like…

MAP — Musical Ambassadors of Peace
Ongoing work in Tijuana… December, 2019

Ari Honarvar leads yet another welcome event for refugees from the drug war zones further south…

This is what World Peace actually looks like…

MAP — Musical Ambassadors of Peace
Ongoing work in Tijuana… October, 2019

MAP — Musical Ambassadors of Peace
Ongoing work in Tijuana… Ari Honarvar, our Musical Ambassador, with help from Carlos Velasco and Nilou Min has been carrying instruments and drums across the border into Mexico for months to offer emotional support to the thousands of refugees arriving from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador looking for safe haven.
Ari Honarvar is a refugee from Iran who has devoted herself to helping other refugees… Her Spanish language skills are growing… Here we see her donate her own guitar to a refugee shelter in Tijuana who’s exact location we cannot divulge because there are those who do try and attack.

Ari Honarvar, our Musical Ambassador from Iran, leads yet another healing music and drumming and dance event in Tijuana, Mexico. It is here that the asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle countries are parked… waiting… hoping to cross to the north into the USA where life promises something better… less dangerous…
To escape death, they left all that was precious to them behind–their home, family, friends, and their sense of belonging. They embarked on an arduous several-month journey filled with difficulties. They know they will continue to face unbelievable challenges and uncertainties in their asylum process. Many will be deported back to the place they escaped from. But for a precious moment, they get to dance and sing with their babies…

Ari is a refugee from Iran and she KNOWS just how healing music and singing and drumming and dance can be to the human soul! That’s why she’s been traveling across the border into Tijuana a few times every month with shakers and drums and musicians to meet with refugees mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and give their souls some refreshment using the techniques and materials provided by Musical Ambassadors of Peace. After an afternoon with Ari these refugees will feel a huge energetic boost which will enable them to move forward with confidence and hope founded on their inner powers to survive and make the best choices available to them. Thank you Ari from Musical Ambassadors of Peace for being such an effective Musical Ambassador! And thank you License to Freedom and other collaborating organizations and people! Love Love Love!

Ari is back in Tijuana again bringing more healing music and singing and dance to the refugees. This work was accomplished in June 2019. Always more to come! Healthy borders are open borders. As the Mexicans like to say, “We didn’t cross the border! The border crossed us! We’ve been here for thousands of years!”

Ari is doing what Musical Ambassadors do: she’s learning the love songs from the culture she’s working with! What a beautiful thing! An Iranian Ambassador singing a popular Mexican song in Spanish!

Ari and Carlos and Nilou return once again to Tijuana on June 10, 2019… check it out… a little happiness and soul healing for refugees…

Ari Honarvar, Musical Ambassador from Iran of Musical Ambassadors of Peace traveled across the border from San Diego to Tijuana on March 12, 2019.

“We got to play, drum, and dance with our asylum-seeking friends waiting to be processed in Tijuana. We met asylum seekers from Nicaragua, Haiti, and Mexico with heartbreaking stories but hopefully our session helped lift their spirits. We didn’t have enough drums, so we cut up wood and used drumsticks to make music. I think it worked out well!”

Musical Ambassador of Peace, Ari Honarvar, Featured Interview

Watch The Young Turk’s Show
– the largest online news program –

live at 5:05PM PST
on Wed the 21st of November

Ari will be talking about
Musical Ambassadors of Peace
for part of the interview

More News Coverage by Voice of San Diego

On November 9th, 2018, Ari and Dilkhwaz, two of our Musical Ambassadors and both refugees themselves, decided to bring our musical energies designed to heal the wounds of war into the Caritas Center in Tijuana, Mexico.

Dilkhwaz is a refugee from Iraq and Ari is a refugee from Iran. They both know something about how it feels to have to flee one’s homeland.

The Caritas Center is offering sanctuary to some of the refugees who are currently fleeing the “northern triangle,” which has become one of the most dangerous places in the world. These women, children and men are from Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador, the countries which form this “northern triangle.”

Ari and Dilkhwaz have been living in the greater San Diego area and offering our drumming, singing and dancing healing sessions to the many Iraqi and Syrian and Afghani women who now make their homes in the large refugee community known as El Cajon. These healing sessions have been progressing for several years now and the healing which has been enabled in many refugee women has been remarkable.

Bearing drums and shakers and baskets of food, Ari and Dilkhwaz entered the Caritas Center and began sharing what they could with these Hispanic refugees who are part of the much feared “caravan from Central America.”

To get a taste of how these Middle Eastern and Central American cultures were able to mingle and share just take a look at some of these images on this page.

Donations to support our activities on behalf of these Refugees from the Central America Project can be made to the following non-profit or crowd-funding organizations: Musical Ambassadors of Peace (also known as Musical Missions of Peace), License to Freedom, Love and Support Across the Border, Immigrant Family Ripped Apart and Al Otro Lado. See Below…

Musical Ambassadors of Peace – Central America Project

Our Main Working NGO Partners

License to Freedom

Dilkhwaz Ahmed is a immigrant women rights activist from the Kurdistan region of Iraq. She served as the Executive Director of the Nawa Center, a shelter for abused women in Sulaimanya, Iraq where she provided counseling and support to victims of domestic violence. She engaged in community outreach through participation in television shows produced for women and youth. She coordinated a program in the women’s jail, helping women transition to life in jail and gain skills necessary to survival in the context of prison life, including how to protect oneself from rape and other abuse.

In 2002, Ms. Ahmed was granted asylum in the United States, and resettled in San Diego. Her three children joined her in the United States three years hence. In 2003, Ms. Ahmed worked at License to Freedom, and since then she has helped more than 5,000 adult survivors and child victims of domestic violence, including people from the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Soviet Union.


Our Main Working NGO Partners

Gente Unida – Enrique Morones

Gente Unida is a Non-Profit 501c3 Human Rights Border Coalition.

Gente Unida is called to speak for and highlight the works of those working for social justice and find collective means working across institutions to feed, protect, cloth and comfort those in our community that have little access to resources due to their nationality, immigration status, age gender or political/legal status

Enrique Morones is a Human Rights activist born in San Diego to Mexican parents who instilled in him a deep love for Mexico, spiritual faith and social justice.


Our Main Working NGO Partners

Upbeat Drum Circles

Christine Stevens, MSW, MA, MT-BC

Christine Stevens is author of Music Medicine, The Healing Drum Kit and The Art and Heart of Drum Circles. The founder of UpBeat Drum Circles, she has appeared on NBC, PBS, KTLA, Discovery Health, Living Better TV, and is a faculty for The Shift Network. She has trained facilitators from more than twenty-five countries including Iraq, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Europe. Christine has worked with Fortune 500 companies, survivors of Katrina, students at Ground Zero and most recently, led the first drum circle training in a war-zone in northern Iraq. Her is the host of Global Rhythm Sangha Online, and teaches a variety of online training programs, including Awaken Your Rhythm which has served hundreds of people from over 35 countries.


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