We care because it matters

A review of our visits in Greece 

RNI is proud of the impact our Emergency Smile programme has had in Greece since the beginning of 2016. By reviewing the accomplishments our international clown teams made between May and October of this year, we know that they made a significant improvement in the emotional well-being of the refugee families they interacted with.

Everything began in May, with our first trip to Athens. The Emergency Smile team, under the guidance of Programme Director Karola Sakotnik, visited Greece hoping to establish the groundwork to accomplish our mission.  

Much of work involved close partnership with many organisations. This includes the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent societies as well as their counterparts from the Austrian, Spanish, German and Finish Red Cross societies.    

The clowns invited all keen observers to join in their musical parade, as is customary of each visit. They happily frolicked through rows of tents and containers and merrily sang joyous tunes to invite the younger crowds to come along.

Many topics were conveyed through the performances. Some were more practical, like hygienic practices such as washing your hands or collecting trash. Others were more subtle lessons of the heart, like respecting each other in daily life or knowing the importance of family

During the first few visits, time was allotted at the end of each performance to play and develop relationships with the audience. This environment allowed for much improvisation, however, a more systematic approach was adopted with input from our partners to develop instructional workshops. Mutual trust and curiousity were crucial themes as the clowns passed along their practical knowledge to the young pupils. 

The fluid nature of the migration trails often meant our skilled artists had to improvise with changing realities on the ground. Each challenge that arose was handled appropriately due to the excellent work done by the management team and the professional artists. 

Our clown teams visited many parts of Greece. Originally intended to be only in Athens, the teams eventually were invited to camps in Skaramagas, Eleonas, Ritsonas, Piaeus and Malakasa. Their successes meant that more Red Cross societies invited us, after July, to the Thessaloniki region, aiding their work in the camps in Nea Kavala, Softex, Kordelio, Diavata, EKO Station and Cherso

Altogether, the Emergency Smile programme sent eight international teams, composed of three talented clowns, to Greece. They performed over 110 times and reached over 10,800 individuals.

While the duration of the mission was never in question, it also proves the dedication that Red Noses International has in developing sustainable missions. We are already planning to continue our work in Greece in 2017. Negotiations are currently underway with our partners to extend our joyous and supportive presence in a more permanent manner for the new year. 

We will continue this necessary work, because it is core to who were are as an organisation, but more importantly, it is at the core of what it means to be a clown. We do this because we care. 

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