(continued from “Meet the clowns”)
This is my first time I have been to Greece, my first time performing with Clowns Without Borders, my first time properly performing to children, and my first time I have ever been to a refugee camp.
Greece has been an easy adjustment. I am loving the food; the people are incredibly polite and friendly; the women are elegantly dressed; however, when it comes to the roads, the drivers seem to work out the rules anew each time they get into their cars, the cars themselves are often battered by life, and when they are left on the pavement, they often look less parked than abandoned. Again, I am grateful that Doukeni is a good and slow driver!
Clowns Without Borders is run by an amazing lady called Sam who I met at a Philipe Gaulier clown training week in St Albans. It is proving an easy charity to work with, organised, and very much aimed at front end activities. There are processes in place to help things run smoothly, and while not every interaction with the press has been as sympathetic as it might have been, frankly some articles are just clickbait aimed at selling advertising – and the upshot of it is that CWB is maturing into a highly effective vehicle for good.
Europe will receive these children whether Europe likes it or not. They are traumatised, have missed out on a childhood, have often experienced trauma and been on the receiving end of violent human interaction. We can either receive children who are developmentally stunted from their experiences, or we can do our best to show them moments of childhood normality, moments when it is safe to laugh and love your fellow man, moments when it is safe to give of yourself in the spirit of generosity.
I believe that is what we are doing, and I hope that this effort can continue and increase, for all of our sakes. And truly, when we perform to them, when we dance around their camps, all they are is little children, getting the same joy as if they were in a primary school in Aberdeen or Yanworth (I can’t think of a UK location beginning with Z, and I’m not even sure if Yanworth is large enough to have a primary school, but you get the idea!).
My first time performing to children was terrifying to start with, but after 30 seconds, it was already easy. My beautiful nephew and niece have prepared me well. And anyway, as my wife would happily attest, there is a large part of the child in me as a day to day person. I’m not convinced that makes me the easiest to live with, but she has the patience of a saint… Suffice to say, they shows are going well.
But my first time into a refugee camp…