It’s as simple as child’s play, right? Wrong.
Right now, there are a billion children who live in areas affected by conflict, war or disaster. When this happens children are often the first group in any population to lose their rights; the right to be a child. Clowns Without Borders aims to bring this back encouraging children to laugh, play and forget their struggles…to simply be children again. We do this by creating unique opportunities for children to engage with performances created by some of our best clowns, jugglers, acrobats and musicians.
Don’t just take our word for it; in February 2104 Plan International invited us work with children worst affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Dr. Unni Krishnan, Head of Disaster Preparedness and Response, said:
“Children affected by the typhoon have gone through a traumatic experience. Clowns Without Borders innovative approach, which blends fun with psychological and humanitarian support, can reach children and help them heal faster.”
Strengthening messages of change and hope
Clowns Without Borders work doesn’t stop there. Our performances can draw huge crowds (our biggest yet is 2,000 children on our Zimbabwe project) and so we are often asked if we can build and strengthen essential messages regarding children’s social welfare, education, health and Human Rights into our performances. We’ve always know the best way for children to understand anything is to make it fun and so when this is appropriate, that’s exactly what we do.
- In the Philippines we were asked us to share essential messages relating to hygiene and hand washing with children.
- In Kenya we worked with Hand in Hand, East Africa to share examples of female empowerment with rural communities.
- In Lebanon, we have been asked to create a performance on land mind safety for children.
Wherever clowns go they and a very visible signal to children that it is acceptable to play and relax. Our performances and workshops can be extremely comforting amidst the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds children in these circumstances. Studies show:
– Laughter can be an important form of “psycho-social first aid” enabling children to cope with stress and anxiety more effectively. Clowns Without Borders creates these opportunities for children (and communities) when they need them the most.
– Laughter can establish and restore a positive emotional climate and brings communities together. It is a powerful sign of resilience and permanence and can impact on well-being and social welfare.
On our tour in the Philipinnes, Anna-Mai, a young woman who took part in our workshops, lost everything including her family home. For her, our workshops had a powerful and transformative effect. She told us:
“I have laughed and I have learnt. It felt like I would not laugh for a very long time after what happened but I did and now I feel like I am back.”