Children are standing in a circle in a big room and are learning tricks from the clowns (spinning plates).

Memorable Emergency Smile mission with IDPs

24.October 2019

Around 800 beneficiaries were reached last month during our three-week mission to Ukraine. The international RED NOSES clown team from Germany, Lithuania, and Slovakia worked in close cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) to bring psychosocial support to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in three different cities.

According to the United Nations, the number of affected people remains as high as 5.2 million as the conflict in the east of Ukraine entered the sixth year, with 1.3 million internally displaced persons registered across the country. Ukraine has the largest uprooted population in Europe and the ninth greatest number of IDPs in the world. In addition, many families have been torn apart because parents are either forced to go to the front line or obliged to go abroad to find work. Therefore, many children are left behind to live with relatives or, in most cases, in social institutions. 

These children not only lost their usual social and physical environment but they also experience parental absence and lack uniquely designed activities to support them emotionally.

With our Circus Smile programme, the clowns can trigger a shift of focus, concentrating on the positive, the strength and the abilities of the children. During the artistic and interactive clown interventions, the kids have the possibility to express their feelings in a playful manner. This reconnection to positive feelings helps them to regain resilience and hope.

The RED NOSES clowns bring a profound message of humanity that everyone, no matter their age or gender, can relate to and take nourishment from. Our mission enriched the lives of a wide variety of beneficiaries: children and adults with disabilities, orphans, children with tuberculosis, but also parents and social workers accompanying the children to the workshops. Adults too, benefit from the circus trainings in a collateral, positive way. Thus, the empathy, spontaneity and creativity of our clowns opened doors towards more lightness. The transforming power of humour cut through heaviness and rigidity.

Aiming for sustainability: Workshops for Red Cross staff

We recognise that the humanitarian aid organisations work in very challenging circumstances. Therefore, we share our skills in special humour seminars to provide them with tools that they can integrate into daily work routines and teach them how to pass on the power of humour to all beneficiaries.

This year, 38 Red Cross volunteers benefitted from our skill-sharing workshops. By training both local staff and volunteers, our missions have a multiplier effect, and benefit the main target group on a more sustainable basis.