RED NOSES clowns give Syrian refugee children in Jordan a present of laughter and hope.

Children who have been fleeing with their families for years have forgotten how to laugh. Even when they have found a safe space and their basic needs are being met in a refugee camp, parents are overwhelmed in their attempts to fulfil their children's important need for happiness and well-being. The RED NOSES Clowndoctors’ Emergency Smile visit to Syrian refugees in Jordan gave refugee children the chance to just let go and laugh.

People who are forced to flee from their homes have often experienced horrific events, the terrors of war or violence. One of the main things refugee camps do is satisfy basic needs. But when people don't process their traumas, feelings of despair and hopelessness and later even criminality can set in and dominate their lives – those very symptoms generally associated with the “lost generation.”

That was the motivation for an international team of RED NOSES clowndoctors in cooperation with Save the Children Jordan to visit refugee children in the largest camps in Jordan – the Azraq Camp, the Emirati Jordan Camp. The four largest host community centers for refugees who live and are cared for outside refugee camps in the north of Jordan were also visited.

RED NOSES know from experience that humour can have a healing effect and gives people hope even in the most dire times. People who have lost everything experience laughter – once their basic needs for food, shelter, medical treatment, etc. are met – as an amazing miracle. Monica Culen, CEO of RED NOSES Clowndoctors International reports: “Our clowns bring unexpected laughter and happiness to people suffering from the traumas of war. That can help heal emotional scars and let hope grow again.

During clown visits in schools and interactive shows in the refugee camps, the children had the chance to interact directly with the clowns. The apolitical and non-religious clown character also sets playful cheerfulness and light-heartedness in the Arabic cultures free.

The psychologist from Save the Children Jordan, Diya Bazadough, is thrilled: “We can give the children food to eat, schooling and psychological support. But the RED NOSES clowns teach the children how to be happy. They found ways to playfully establish points of reference for laughter, happiness and joy for the children, which is something I hadn’t yet been able to do. Now I am better able to convey to the children that you should strive to feel good and be happy in life.”

In addition to working in the refugee camps, RED NOSES clowns were also invited to visit the King Hussein Cancer Center, the largest and most important independent cancer treatment hospital in the Middle East. The medical and nursing staff couldn’t believe how quickly the heavy and worried atmosphere transformed into happiness and cheerfulness.

The Emergency Smile team consisted of three RED NOSES clowns from Palestine, a Czech and a Slovakian clown plus the Austrian clown and project leader Karola Sakotnik.

Monica Culen was also there to see the situation first hand and to meet with representatives of international organisations, ministries, health care facilities and diplomats. Together with Manal Al Wazani, CEO of Save the Children Jordan, Monica Culen signed a memorandum of understanding and laid the groundwork for future cooperation. Another Emergency Smile visit is planned for January 2015.

One of RED NOSES International’s wishes is to train local artists in Jordan to become RED NOSES clowns so that they can regularly visit not only children in refugee camps, but also children suffering from cancer in the King Hussein Cancer Center. It needs donations to make that happen.

Bank account for donations: IBAN: AT89 20111 82224245903 BIC: GIBAATWWXXX
(donations are tax deductible)

About RED NOSES Emergency Smile  
The RED NOSES team was first deployed to disaster areas in 1999 during the Kosovo War. They later visited flooded regions in Austria 2009, New Zealand following the 2011 and 2012 earthquakes, and have been active in Palestine since 2005. The first official destination of the RED NOSES Emergency Smile programme was Cameroon, Africa in 2013, followed by visits to flood victims in the Balkans in 2014.

RED NOSES: Austrian roots, global demand

RED NOSES Clowndoctors has been internationally active since 2003. With Austria as its hub, RED NOSES organisations have been successfully established since 2003 in Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, Palestine and New Zealand. That positions the RED NOSES group operationally as the world’s largest association of hospital clown organisations.

Since RED NOSES were founded, their clowndoctors have visited approximately 2.8 million people in over 70,000 visits!

For further information, please contact:
Eva Primavesi - Public Relations
RED NOSES Clowndoctors International
T: +43 1 318 03 13 - 42


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