Successful Emergency Smile mission with IDPs

16.October 2018

In cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) and Alta Mane Foundation

For over three weeks, an international RED NOSES clown team from Croatia, the Czech Republic and Germany provided psychosocial support to more than 80 IDP children in three different cities in Ukraine. 
In cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) and the support of Alta Mane Foundation, our professional healthcare clowns carried out our latest Emergency Smile mission in Eastern Europe.

According to the United Nations, after four years of conflict in eastern Ukraine, an estimated of 1.6 million people remain internally displaced, being the largest uprooted population in Europe and among the 10 largest 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 and therefore many children are left behind to live with relatives or, in most cases, in social institutions.  

These children not only lose their usual social and physical environment but they also experience a lack of routine, regular schooling and child-friendly activities.

With the preparation of 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 are given the possibility to express their feelings in a playful manner.  This re-connection to positive feelings helps them to regain resilience and hope. Our circus trainings also provide a sense of “normalcy” in abnormal situations. Within the preparation of the final show, there is a strong reintegration component as the activities aim to reconnect the children with their environment, community and culture.

Moreover, our circus trainings offer an exceptional opportunity for self-expression not only to its participants but also to the people around them. Parents, as they accompany their children to the workshops, benefit from them in a collateral and positive way. Very often, it is harder for IDPs to seek psychological and psychosocial support. Therefore, through the kids, we can also help the families in their struggle and provide them with coping strategies that make them look for a better brighter future.

Aiming for sustainability: Workshops for Red Cross staff and other local clown organizations

Year after year, humanitarian organisations provide lifesaving services in critical areas. The healthcare and humanitarian staff work uninterruptedly under lots of stress and tension, quickly leading to burnout syndrome and depression.

This is why Red Noses feels the need to share our humour expertise with our fellow humanitarian aid colleagues to help them cope with the difficult environment they have to deal with every day. 

In special workshops, the clowns show how to integrate playfulness and humour into daily work routines, reducing stress levels for everyone. With easy tricks, any object can be transformed into puppets or fantasy figures that trigger the imagination and evoke humour. This is one of the reasons why our humorous activities are always warmly welcomed by the local staff and the humanitarian aid workers. This time, the director from the Ukrainian Red Cross stressed how glad she was about our continuous cooperation and that after six successful missions in the country, they are starting to see the real impact of our work. 

This year, 78 Red Cross volunteers plus 30 local clowns were able to benefit from our skill-sharing workshops. By training both, local staff and volunteers, as well as local hospital clowning groups, our missions have a multiplier effect, and benefit the main target group on a more sustainable basis.