RED NOSES supports the refugee work of the RED CROSS

Cultural differences are exciting, may create confusion or can even become a humorous topic. And that is exactly why the RED CROSS reverted to the know-how of RED NOSES International (RNI) and asked for support not only in psychosocial assistance with a touch of humour but also in ‘teaching’ refugees typical Austrian customs.


A team of four RED NOSES clowns led by RNI’s project director, Karola Sakotnik, visited a transit accommodation centre for refugees located in ‘Vordere Zollamtsstrasse’ in Vienna on 23 November. This former tax office building is currently a transit home to about 1,000 refu-gees, including approximately 150 children and 200 women.

RED NOSES International has already worked in refugee camps in Jordan and knows how to communicate content without finger wagging and moralising, but rather, by transmitting in-formation with lots of humour. The RED CROSS profits from this experience of communi-cating Austrian customs to refugees. Once one laughs about something, one tends to remem-ber it better.

RED NOSES conveyed the following topics in a humorous way, avoiding cultural fauxpas:
• hand washing and proper drying (prevention of cold and flu)
• tap water is drinking water

How did they do it? The clowns dried their wet hands by rubbing them wildly in their own hair which is better than drying hands in a overused towel; they pushed each other next to the sink to fill their water bottles from the tap to show that the water is of best quality and drinkable; and they demonstrated the use of their most important accessory - a toilet seat – with clownish and dramatic attempts to go to the loo.

Interpersonal contact was also of significance during their visit. The clowns played sensitive and cheerful Arabic music, blew fascinating soap bubbles, performed magic tricks, danced and had direct encounters with the children and their parents.




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