At its heart, “Somewhere,” the latest song from Portland, Maine’s Pihcintu Chorus, is an anthem for universal tolerance and acceptance. The song is soulfully delivered by Shy, an 11-year-old former refugee from Namibia. On the chorus, Shy is joined by the other 33 members of the group and it is clear from the emotion and power that this song is not simply an anthem; the lyrics are the lived experience of all the young women singing. “If we believe, we can achieve / We can be anything on Earth we want to be” they sing.
The song also encapsulates the mission and vision of the chorus. Pihcintu is a word from the Passamaquoddy, an indigenous community from northeastern North America. It means “When she sings, her voice carries far” — and it’s the perfect name for this chorus.
Pihcintu is comprised of refugee and immigrant girls from 22 countries who have made Portland, Maine their new home. They come from countries like Burkina Faso, Iraq, Vietnam and El Salvador. Many fled war, violence and persecution, but have found safety in the Pine Tree State’s vibrant refugee community.
“When I hear the voices of the Pihcintu Chorus, I’m filled with such hope for their futures,” said Anne-Marie Grey, Executive Director of USA for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. “Through song, these young women and girls are ensuring their voices are heard in their communities and they are doing it in such a beautiful manner.”
Ensuring that refugees’ voices are heard is what inspired Con Fullam, an award-winning producer, musician and songwriter, to found Pihcintu in 2004.
“From Syria to Central America, UNHCR works tirelessly to provide the helpless with hope. The members of the chorus hope that this video raises awareness of the dire circumstances of so many and encourages those who view it to take action for their fellow world citizens,” said Fullam.
For its members, Pihcintu is more than a chorus. It’s a safe space to make friends, acclimate to their adopted country and hone their language skills. Of the more than 300 young women who have been a part of Pihcintu since it began, 100 percent have graduated from high school and 85 percent have gone on to pursue post-secondary educational opportunities.
How You Can Help…
World Children’s Day was established in 1954 and is celebrated on November 20 each year to improve child welfare and to promote togetherness among children worldwide. With your help, more children like Shy will have the opportunity to build a peaceful life and give their family a bright future.