BEIRUT — Wacky makeup, brightly patterned costumes and accordion-playing clowns are sure to bring smiles to kids; even those who have gone through truly traumatic experiences.
It has always been said that laughter makes the best medicine. Clowns Without Borders aims to medicate those who are living in a crisis situation, especially children.
Clowns Without Borders is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization catering specifically to children who are living in refugee areas during times of crisis. They put on different circus performances and workshops to help children enjoy themselves and cope with what they are living through.
Clowns Without Borders was founded in July 1993 by Tortell Poltrona, a professional clown in Spain. He was invited to perform at a refugee camp in Croatia where the audience was filled with more than 700 children. Tortell decided to build the organization after he saw what a difference he could make by helping children laugh through hard times. By 2000, Clowns Without Borders had put on over 100 shows.
Clowns Without Borders now operates out of nine different countries: Spain, France, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, Canada and the United States.
The clowns are currently in Lebanon clowning around with the Syrian refugees. They partnered up with an organization based in Lebanon called Clown Me In with the financial help of Kuwait’s Layan, an aid organization for Syrian refugees. Millions of Syrian refugees have traveled to Lebanon due to the crisis going on in their own country.
Ruben Elsinga, founder of nonprofit Syria What Will Be, talked about the performance in Syria. Elsinga described how big of an impact juggling, singing and dancing parades had on the Syrian refugees.
“For these tiny refugees, it was as if the war – if only for a moment – had been extinguished by the magical power of this clownish bunch,” said Elsigna.
Over the next two weeks, Clowns Without Borders will continue to bring smiles to young Syrian refugees.