Cookstown teen teams up with Afghan Women's Orchestra

A teenage musician and peace ambassador who has batted a heart condition since birth, has teamed up with members of the Afghan Women’s Orchestra during the pandemic to star in a collaboration music video with the support of the Community Relations Council.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 4:30 pm

Cara Monaghan (16) from Cookstown, features on a video with Afghanistan’s first women’s orchestra - also known as Ensemble Zohra - as part of an international partnership with local intercultural arts charity Beyond Skin which has seen current and former students from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) teaming up with young female musicians in Northern Ireland.

Cara has been working with the organisation Beyond Skin ever since she met its founder, Darren Ferguson, while attending a summer scheme in Cookstown on music and peacebuilding and wrote her own song ‘What If’ which ended up being performed by young musicians in Sri Lanka as part of a music project with Beyond Skin.

Beyond Skin designs and facilitates arts projects to develop a more peaceful, equal and intercultural society free from racism and sectarianism, funded by the CRC’s Community Relations / Cultural Diversity Small Grants Scheme. The charity recruited Cara as a Youth4Peace ambassador, as part of a global initiative implementing the Youth Peace & Security UN Resolution 2250.

Cara Monaghan from Cookstown.

“Since we met Cara she has performed in concerts, music videos, film projects and at prestigious events with local and international professional musicians - using music to connect communities and doing events that bring us together with our neighbours around the world. All this, and Cara only turned 16 last October - she is only getting started,” said Darren.

Cara has battled health problems since birth, when she was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called pulmonary arteriovenous fistula which can shunt blood flow in the wrong direction around the body.

She underwent a series of lifesaving surgeries in the first months of her life and in P5 underwent major surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital for pectus excavatum, a hole in the breast bone. It was at this stage that she developed her passion for music, her mum Jacinta says.

As her musical skills have developed, Cara has been taking part in more and more performances and has been working closely with Darren on Beyond Skin projects.


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