Independent international group Clowns Without Borders (CWB) and UNHCR have teamed up to bring laughter and happiness to refugee children in Tongogara refugee camp and communities in Chipinge district ahead of commemorations marking World Refugee Day, which will take take place on June 20.
Clowns Without Borders was created in 1993 to deal with the suffering caused by the war in the former Yugoslavia, especially for children. They are professional clowns or circus artists who volunteer their time and talent. From April 28 to May 6, three artists from the Spanish brand CWB performed daily performances in the refugee camp and primary schools in various towns in the Chipinge district.
“The importance of bringing happiness to children and forgetting the tensions in their lives, even for a short time, is crucial in building their resilience. Bringing a smile to a child is a wonderful gift,” says the representative of the UNHCR in Zimbabwe, Abdoulaye Barry.
Clowns provide an opportunity for parents and children to smile. The two laughed and cheered during the hour-long shows filled with music, magic tricks, acrobatics, dancing, slapstick comedy and, of course, plenty of opportunities for the kids to have fun. For a few hours, everyone forgets their problems.
Donald B. Lehn, one of the three clowns who came to Zimbabwe, was “surprised by the sociability qualities of the children of the Tongogara refugee camp and their ability to learn the keys to enjoying the show. There are places you go where kids don’t know how to react. They’re so excited it’s hard to put on the show. But these children very quickly understand our games, laugh, understand the intricacies of our humor and appreciate the expression of skills that we share.
The humanitarian organization has worked with UNHCR in many countries hosting refugees, including Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Colombia, Jordan, Syria, Ukraine, Lebanon and Greece. Over the years, CWB performances have provided healing, emotional support, laughter and community involvement.
A survey commissioned in February 2017 by CWB at the Autonomous University of Barcelona demonstrated that CWB broadcasts had a measurable effect on children’s emotional state and symptoms related to depression, post-traumatic stress and conflicting relationships. behavior. The effect was measured 11 weeks after the NGO occurred in different settings, indicating that the positive effects were maintained for at least this time.
Léonie Mwiro, refugee and single mother from the DRC, was delighted with the show: “We can see that the children are happy with this initiative which helps them relieve stress. She has been in Tongogara for eight years and “this is the first time we have seen something like this”. Tongogara refugee camp hosts more than 15,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Almost half of them are children. Many were not born when their parents fled their country in search of safety. Javier González, one of the clowns performing in Zimbabwe, said: “We came here to create great memories for these children and their parents.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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