I’ve not seen my children laugh so much in a very long time

Ainura, her husband and their four sons, lived in Rubizhne, a city in the region of Luhansk Oblast in the Ukraine. After the military conflict broke out in their immediate vicinity, they fled their home for safety in Kiev, where they were given shelter at a support centre for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Since then the whole family lives in a 12 m2 room.  Planning to only stay a few weeks, they have now been living there for over 6 months and see no possibility to return to their hometown in the near future.

As Ainura’s husband used to repair shoes and clothes in Rubizhne, he has now managed to open a small repair kiosk in Kiev. This makes him one of the lucky 30% of IDP centre inhabitants who have a permanent job.

Still unemployed, Ainura’s only possibility to earn any money is to also mend other people’s clothes, which she does on her sewing machine in their little room. In addition, she voluntarily helps with the administration of the IDP centre, as it is solely run by the IDPs themselves.

When the international team of RED NOSES clowns (led by our partner organisation in Lithuania, RAUDONOS NOSYS Gydytojai klounai) arrived for their Emergency Smile mission at the IDP centre in Kiev, the first person they met was Ainura‘s youngest son, Rustam. The 7-year-old boy was playing all alone on the asphalt in the back yard. Before starting their preparations, the clowns introduced themselves to Rustam and showed him some tricks. He watched with large, dark sparkling eyes and a big smile on his face. After that, he followed the clowns wherever they went - every day for 2 weeks in a row! Rustam and his three older brothers, David (9), Arslan (14) and Roman (18), participated in the workshops and tried playing ukulele, practised juggling with scarves and even learned some acrobatic skills.  

“When the clowns visited us, the atmosphere in the building changed completely. Every day we heard music, laughter and songs. I’ve not seen my children laugh so much in a very long time. They practised the tricks they learned with the clowns and they even showed me some too,” Ainura remarked as a smile came across her face.

From Ainura’s point of view, the people living in this IDP centre have one thing in common – they have all been affected by armed conflict which evokes common negative experiences. After the workshop with RED NOSES clowns, the people now also have something else in common: positive experiences that they can share and enjoy with each other. These valuable moments give personal strength and help the individual to cope better with daily life.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

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