Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Clowns Without Borders

Day 8 performance of Clowns without borders

I don’t usually like to share many pictures per post but really every single one of them is worth it.

We performed for the Roma community last night in a beautiful village in #Romania and it was one of a kind experience. the first time in my 12 years of clowning that I have heard people laughing that much and enjoying every single second.

U know these comedy shows where they add extra laughter after every single act? Well it was even more than that.

This community is a group of people who know how and when to have fun, love music, love dancing and love to laugh despite their harsh life. They are free, loud and very at ease with their bodies.

That little kid with this white suit 🙂 he was so intelligent, so sharp and so sweet. Laughing when he should have and wanted to. Playing along when needed and observing well the details of the show.

That girl with beautiful eyes, didn’t stop going back and forth at the end of the show to give us big big hugs. She was wild, happy and so alive that she could give energy to the whole world and still have some for herself.

And that old lady, the oldest in the pics, with a beautiful flowery scarf on the head well apparently she was their leader of the community.

What a leader. What a community. What a life time experience.

Tonight I slept in a different gypsy village where in a bit we will be performing with our host ( who’s a kick ass gypsy musician ) in yet another gypsy town in #Romania with Clowns Without Borders USA David Lichtenstein Dustin J Allen Jeroen Wils Clown Me In #diariesofaclown#thebalkanroute
Photos by: #AliJDalloul

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Day 4 of performances of Clowns Without Borders in the Balkan refugee camps

Day 4 of performances. Our last day in Bosnia, in Kosovo specifically, where people are preparing themselves to go to the borders. Many of them don’t know that they will be stopped by the police mid way and left on the side of the road.

At least this awesome woman Sanella Lepirica and her father are trying their best to find a way to help. ( check her out if u want to help)

We performed again for many men and some kids. Those kids oh my god they just laughed non stop and enjoyed it all big time. They enjoyed all of our small silly stupid jokes, that’s not bad for a final day lesson

After that we played at the train station with Roma community. They hooped and span balls for a whole hour without getting bored or tired. That’s also not a bad lesson to learn from kids. Be silly, laugh when u can and enjoy the tiniest actions in life. Thank you kids.

Off to the forests of #serbia. I wonder what’s waiting for us there.
&David Lichtenstein Dustin J Allen Clowns Without Borders USA Clown Me In #diariesofaclown

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Clowns Without Borders in the #Balkans and #Bosnia

Day 3 of performances in the #Balkans. In #Bosnia. Only men around.

It was sunny outside but very quiet. The police wanted to look at all of our clown gears, rubber chicken, noisy pigs, hoops, juggling balls, lassos … everything.

We were greeted with formal serious police faces. When we entered the big building, few smiles and laughs erupted but darkness, damp and a smell of rotten souls was covering the place.

In this dark alley, us clowns were the only colorful thing. I was walking and feeling the heaviness of the space despite the smiles around. In no time we gathered a group of 500 men and a handful of kids and women.

We kept performing for an hour and a half. The longest show so far. Every time we were about to end the show, a feeling inside told us we should keep going.

These men were caught in forests and sent to this place despite their will. It was only fair to share more and to offer a bit of joy. Two Syrians afterwards told me that they were actually kidnapped in Kosovo and have been in that place for the past 9 months.

One guy on a wheelchair had rotten feet ( can’t take this image out of my head). Images of misery on all sides. But we were there, Hassan too, an Iranian guitar player joined and played some songs, audience participation made a big positive difference.

We left with heavy hearts, but also with a bit of joy of being able to share some laughs and joy and a small hope that spring is arriving and maybe just maybe some of those will eventually make it and reach the dream land, away from war and oppression.

Thankfully I am with David Lichtenstein who was unstoppable today and Dustin J Allen who kept going despite his injury from that big fall on the ground.

On the way out, a girl was so happy to see me. She said : “ heyyy I know u 🙂 we met in Greece last year”.
Maybe next I’ll meet her in her dream land and hopefully she will still recognize me.

Clowns Without Borders USA
Clown Me In #diariesofaclown
Photo by: Jeroen Wils

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Clowns without Borders in Serbia refugee camps

March 8th, Serbia – #balkan road-

That day, we took the ferry, then the dirt road, then drove for couple more hours to get to a forest where some young and older men have spent the last months or year or two of their lives trying to cross the borders! we performed in the middle of nowhere, in a forest, under the roof of an abandoned building where these guys spend their nights when it is cold!

on the way out, I was clowning around and asked one guy for his papers!
” which ones? would you like my serbian passport? my Bulgarian one? or my Afghani one? I have all of them scanned and ready!! he replied with a smile on his face and a lot of anger and sadness in his eyes.
Justin Therrien Bekah Hammond Clowns Without Borders USA Jeroen Wils Photos by: Ali Dalloul

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A quick follow up to the March 5th post.

Apparently, we got a good reputation in the #balkans and we received a last minute permit to perform at the Subotica camp.
I didn’t even have to come up with an undercover clown costume.

Check the video to see Aya’s reaction when she saw the picture of her best friend from the other camp!
During the show, and before I showed her anything or even knew which one she was, she volunteered to come on stage and play with me. She looked at me and introduced herself ” hello, my name is Aya”!!!!

I think we should give the clowns more missions in this world!
#clowns #without #borders!
Clowns Without Borders USA Justin Therrien Bekah Hammond Molly Rose
Photo and video by : Ali Dalloul

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Clowns without Borders on the borders of Italy and Slovenia

#balkans March 5th 2018:

Yesterday we were performing for Pakistani refugees staying at the borders of Italy and Slovenia!

They don’t know what will happen to them, will they be deported? will they be able to stay? Some have been waiting for two years now, they just don’t know yet!

In the afternoon, and just like that, we crossed the border from Italy to Slovenia and performed in Ljubljana for Roma, Serbian Bosnian and Iraqi refugees.

On the train today, passport control! I was the only one asked to empty my bag so they can search it… and search me! Making sure I am not a threat !

And it happened that I was reading “ Charlotte” a book by David Foenkinos, following the life of a German Jewish painter growing up in the times of Nazis, the deportation, the atrocities, the inhumane behaviors, and finding refuge that ended up with death!

Brunner who said “ all of those deserve to die, they were sent by the devil and they’re the garbage of humans”!

Here we are, years later, same thing happening to many other populations and in many different forms!

There’s always someone who thinks that someone else is the garbage of humans deserving to die and there’s some of the oppressed nations/ groups who’ve become even worse oppressors now, while brand new oppressors have also appeared!

And We, humans, we’re mostly watching and nodding ! (The same silent majority, tacitly siding with the state positions)

On the train from Slovenia to Serbia, everything around is white, temperature is between -2 and 5 degrees! on my way to Clown around for people who have been hiding in forests for more than 2 years now and I’m so angry and so sad !
Clowns Without Borders USA Justin Therrien Bekah Smith – Juggler

March 6th – Sombor – Serbia

Long empty far roads covered with white white snow! We drove for about 2 hours to get to a camp in the middle of nowhere in Serbia! we were welcomed by kids and adults who came running and laughing loudly when they saw us.

One little 11 year old kid shouted : ” hey you, I know you. I saw you last year in Sid” ( a camp where he was at – and where Clay Mazing and myself performed.)

Always warms my heart to hear such a thing. We played, we blew bubbles, we laughed and the following day we decided to go back and play some more with the kids and their families. They, apparently, have never had clowns passing by this camp not far from the Croatian border.

Now I am on a mission!

While chatting with two teenage girls, one recounted about her best friend Aya who’s now moved with her parents to a different camp ( 3 hours away from this one) – She and her had locked two swings together with a beautiful ribbon as token of their friendship.

Here’s another friend whom I lost and won’t probably see again- this is pretty much what’s been happening to all my friendships” this 14 year old girl said.

She took a picture with me and asked me to go to this camp, perform and look for Aya and show her the pic and tell her that her friend there, in the middle of nowhere, misses her everyday…

Fact is: we were denied access to this specific camp and I am thinking, it might be time to think about an undercover clown costume? hmmm….

Clowns Without Borders USA #balkan route Bekah Hammond Justin Therrien Molly Rose Jeroen Wils photos by: Ali Dalloul

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Member of Clowns without Borders:

Sabine Choukeir instituted ClownMe-In

Sabine Choukeir has visited most refugee camps several times in Greece, Germany, Lebanon…

And created the group Caravanat that encourage refugee children and youth to tell their stories and act.

The Caravanat scheduled a long tour in Lebanon, visiting dozens of towns

Cynthia Choucair shared this link. March 25 ·

When I asked her about her job, she laughed a little and said, “I am a a clown, and this is the only thing that I am good at in my life.” So, I laughed with her…

سابين شقير، فنانة لبنانية بفقاقيع هوائية


سابين شقير. Photo Fanack

عندما سألتها ما هي مهنتها، ضحكت قليلاً ثم أجابت “أنا مهرجة وهذا الشيئ الوحيد الذي أحترفه في الحياة.” ضحكت معها أيضاً، فقد يعتبر البعض أن التهريج لا يمكن أن يكون عملاً مستداماً يستمر معنا طوال حياتنا، لكن لسابين هذه الفنانة التي تعشق عملها رؤية ونظرة مختلفة.

ولدت سابين شقير في شهر يناير من عام 1982 في بيروت – لبنان من عائلة صغيرة مؤلفة من شقيق وشقيقة. تلقت دروسها الإبتدائية والثانوية في مدرسة القلبين الأقدسين في بكفيا ثم الحدد. وفي العام 1999 نجحت سابين في إمتحان الدخول إلى الجامعة اللبنانية، كلية الفنون الجميلة قسم المسرح. لا تعرف سابين كيف تجد كلمات تصف بها قرارها هذا بدراسة المسرح، إذ تعتبر هذا عشقها منذ الصغر. فبهلاوانة البيت كما يحب والدها تسميتها، ما زالت كما كانت طفلة مليئة بالحياة والنشاط وشابة حالمة، حيث أخبرتنا “درست المسرح لأنني أحب جعل الناس يحلمون.” فسابين شقير ولدت وترعرت خلال الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية (1975-1990) وكان الحلم يومها طريقها الوحيد إلى الحياة.

تتلمذت شقير في الجامعة على يد أهم وأبرز أساتذة المسرح يومها في لبنان. ولعل أستاذة المسرح والإيماء الممثلة عيدا صبرا كان لها التأثير الأكبر والأبرز على قرارات شقير المسرحية. ففن الإيماء، هذا الفن الصامت نادى شقير بعظمته. حزمت حقائبها مع مطلع الألفية الثانية وسافرت إلى لندن حيث تخصصت فيه في “دسموند جونز للإيماء،” وخلال دراستها بدأت تشعر سابين أن الإيماء ليس هو ما تطمح إليه وما تبغيه في الحياة. فالبنسبة لها هذا الفن يمكن أن يوصلها إلى مكان ثابت غير متحرك وهي كانت بحاجة في تلك الفترة إلى فنٍ نابضٍ بالإحساس وبالحياة إستجابة للنداء الذي كان يحاكيها منذ الصغر بجعل الناس يحلمون، وهل أفضل من القصص لتحقيق هذا الهدف؟ لم يكن من الصعب على سابين إتخاذ القرار الذي قد يُغير مجرى حياتها، فدخلت المدرسة الدولية لفنون العرض في لندن لتدرس فن التهريج ورواية القصص (الحكواتي) .

تعتبر سابين أن الإنسان بطبعه بحاجة لسماع القصص، فشهرزاد، الملكة الأسطورية، نجحت في إنقاذ حياتها من خلال القصص، ومن منا لم يسمع الحكايات قبل النوم لينعم بليلةٍ دافئة حالمة، تلك الحكايات التي تنمي قدرة الإبداع عند الإنسان، تلك القصص التي تساعدنا في كثيرٍ من الأحيان على تخطي واقعنا المرير، وهل أفضل من المهرج كي يقص علينا كل تلك القصص، تقول سابين.

ليس المهرج بالنسبة لسابين هو ذاك الذي يضع أنفه الأحمر فحسب، بالنسبة لها، هو تلك الطفولة الموجودة في كل شخص منا. “تلك الطفولة التي نسعى في كل مرة إلى قتلها وطمرها . تأتي هي لمساعدتنا على إعادة إخراجها إلى الحياة، فتسعادنا للتعامل براحة أكبر مع مشاكل الحياة اليومية التي تعترضنا.”

بناءً على هذا ومع كل الصعوبات والمشاكل التي تعترض الإنسان يومياً، أيقنت سابين أن رسالتها ستكون أبعد من مجرد فن الإيماء، بل سيحتاج عملها إلى الكثير من الأشخاص في القريب العاجل. دفعها هذا للتوجه إلى “إيست سايد إنستيتيوت” في نيويورك حيث حصلت على شهادة في العلاج النفسي الإجتماعي. وفي يناير2007 عادت سابين إلى وطنها الأم لبنان لتبدأ من هنا مشوارها الصعب على أرض الواقع .

المهنة الإنسانية لسابين

Sabine Choucair clown

فرقة “كلون مي إن” الذي أسستها الفنانة اللبنانية سابين شقير. Photo Fanack

البداية كانت قاسية وصعبة جداً، فلبنان الغارق بأزاماته ومشاكله لم يتمكن من استيعاب العمل الذي تقدمه شقير بسرعة. فمن أصل ستين إقتراح مشروع قدمته سابين لجمعيات ومؤسسات داعمة لم تلقى آذاناً صاغية أو من يهتم بعملها. وهي التي لا تعرف إنجاز أي عمل آخر غادرت لبنان من جديد في عام 2009 لتلاقي صديقتها في المكسيك. وهناك قررت مع صديقتها الشروع بورش عمل، فوضعت أنفها الأحمر وبدأت تجول في الشوارع من بلد إلى بلد، منذ عام 2009 وحتى اليوم، من الهند إلى البرازيل وصولاً إلى كندا، وبهذه الطريقة بدأت سابين تأسيس فرقتها “كلون مي إن” التي أصبحت تضم اليوم أكثر من عشرة مهرجين يزرعون البسمة أينما حلوا .

تختار سابين المواضيع التي تريد معالجتها مع فريقها بدقة وعناية، تستعين بأنفها الأحمر لتشتم رائحة المشاكل والصعوبات التي تحيط بهم . فقبل أسابيع قليلة من بدء أزمة النفايات في لبنان في يوليو 2015، وتراكم الأكياس في شوارع المدينة، قدمت شقير مع أصدقائها عرضاً تفاعلياً في شوارع مدينة بيروت موضوعه عدم إهتمام اللبناني ببيئته ومحيطه ورميه للنفايات بطريقة عشوائية دون الاعتماد على الفرز من المصدر.

عرضٌ أضحك المارة والمشاهدين، لكنه أنذر بقرب وصول العاصفة ، وها هم اللبنانيون اليوم يغرقون في الروائح الكريهة .

وبالتزامن مع تأسيس فرقتها قامت سابين بورشات عمل في فن التهريج والدعم النفسي الإجتماعي مع شباب وأطفال من لبنان والمغرب والأردن ودبي ولندن والولايات المتحدة والهند والبرازيل والمكسيك وفرنسا والكاميرون. ودون أن تنتظر قدومهم إليها، قررت هي أن تذهب إليهم.

غيّرت سابين نظرتها إلى الحياة بعد أن انخرطت بالعمل الإجتماعي مع الشباب الذين يتعاطون المخدرات. هم في ريعان عمرهم مدمرون يائسون، لذا قدمت عروضها لتضحكهم ولتساعدهم في الوقت عينه على التخلي عن مشاكلهم والإنطلاق نحو حياة أكثر بساطة وأكثر فرحاً.

ورغم كل الجهود التي وضعتها سابين شقير في سبيل مساعدة الآخرين، ونشاطها الدائم منذ أكثر من عشرة أعوام، لم يأخذ عملها الإجتماعي مداه إلا مع بدء الحرب السورية عام 2011، وبدء ما سمي بأزمة اللاجئين بعد تدفق أكثر من مليون سوري إلى لبنان. وبسبب هذه المأساة والوضع غير المستقر في سوريا المنكوبة بالحرب، أيقنت شقير عندها أن الوقت قد حان لمساعدة الشريحة الأكبر من الناس، فقررت التعاون مع جمعية بيروت دي سي الثقافية وبدعمٍ من الاتحاد الأوروبي واليونيسيف في لبنان. وبعد زيارات عديدة قامت بها إلى مخيمات اللاجئين السوريين والفلسطنيين بين البقاع وبيروت، قررت سابين أن تقود ورشة عمل تحت عنوان “رؤية الذات،” لتساعد من خلاله وفي الإطار نفسه المراهقين الشباب ضحايا الحرب والعنف العائلي والإجتماعي على التعبير عن ذاتهم وكتابة قصصهم وتحوليها إلى أفلام وثائقية قصيرة بمساعدة مخرجين متخصصين في المجال. أنتجت ورشة العمل هذه حوالي تسعة عشر فيلماً وثائقياً قصيراً شاركوا في مهرجانات سينمائية مهمة حول العالم وحاز البعض منها على جوائز، لكن الأهم من كل ذلك، أن هذه الأفلام ساعدت أصحابها الذين مروا بظروف صعبة جداً على تخطي مشاكلهم .

Sabine Choucair and Syrian refugees

سابين شقير أثناء ترفيهها عن اللاجئين السوريين في جزيرة لسفوس اليونانية. Photo Fanack

عندما كانت سابين تعمل مع هؤلاء الأطفال، كانت تظن أن هذا أقصى وضعٍ إجتماعي يمكن أن تعمل به، ولكن مع بدء أزمة تدفق اللاجئين السوريين إلى اليونان، تلقت سابين طلباً من جمعية “مهرجون بلا حدود،“. قدمت سابين مشروع عمل إجتماعي في لبنان لكنها كانت تدرك جيداً أن اليونان، وبالتحديد جزيرة لسفوس، هي المكان الأنسب لعملها، فحزمت حقائبها ومضت إلى هناك .

لا يمكن لسابين أن تتحدث بسهولة عن تجربتها على تلك الجزيرة، سوريون لاجئون يأتون من كل حدب وصوب هاربون من الموت، أطفالاً ونساءً وشباباً رأوا الموت بأعيونهم، ورأوا أقاربهم يموتون في عرض البحر. كانوا يُصّلون ويظنون أنهم وصلوا إلى أوروبا حتى يدركوا سريعاً أنهم ما زالوا على جزيرة صغيرة والطريق أمامهم طويلة.

“لم يضحك أحدٌ في ذلك المكان، حتى المساعدين الإجتماعيين كانوا في حالة صدمة، كنا الوحيدين الذين نضحك ونحاول إضحاك الجميع،” تُضيف سابين.

لا تخاف شقير على نفسها رغم كل المشاهدات التي تراها والمآسي التي تلتقيها من أن تصبح شخصاً تعيساً مع الوقت، بل على العكس، فهي تزرع الفرح على وجوه هؤلاء الناس. تضحك من قلبها لتضحكهم ولتزيل الحزن من داخل قلوبهم.

لسوء الحظ، ليس هناك ما يوثق أعمال شقير الفنية، ذلك أنها فنانة بلا ريشة ولا قلم ولا كاميرا، فهي تستعين فقط بأنفها الأحمر، وبتنورتها المزركشة وفقاقيعها الهوائية لتقدم عرضها. وحده من يشاهد تهريجها مباشرةً يمكنه أن يستمتع بفنها، لذا قد لا تدخل التاريخ أسوةً بأعظم الفنانين، لكن صورتها ستبقى في عيون كل من شاهدها وأضحكته من قلبه .

تستعد سابين اليوم لإطلاق “الكرفانة،” مشروعٌ جديد من مسرح الشارع التفاعلي الذي سيجول في الأراضي اللبنانية. فأفكار عروض سابين مبنية على قصص لاجئين سوريين تقوم بتسجيلها حالياً (استمعوا للقصص وتابعوا مدونتها). كل ما تتمناه سابين اليوم هو أن يلاقيها العديد في العمل التطوعي الإجتماعي، فالعمل كثير والمتطوعون قليلون .


Clowns Without Borders: Intersection of performing arts and humanitarian aid

Clowns Without Borders is a non-profit organization that offers laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis, including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency.

CWB brings levity, contemporary clown/circus oriented performances and workshops into communities so they can celebrate together and temporarily forget about the tensions that darken their daily lives.

Sabine Choucair shared this link. May 4 at 11:23pm ·

I love all the badass women I work with smile emoticon Molly Rose u rock and all the @clowns without borders amazing badass women Tamara Palmer Naomi Shafer Kolleen Kintz Samantha Holdsworth Louise Lola Frisk Jennifer Vidmo Luz Gaxiola

They work with relief organizations to address the psycho-social needs of those who suffer from traumatic situations.

In participation with doctors, psychologists, social workers and members of the community, they create joyful experiences from which children and the communities thrive.

CWB also seeks to raise our society’s awareness of affected populations and to promote a spirit of solidarity. 

This week’s Kind Badass is Molly Rose Levine, the Executive Director of Clowns Without Borders, USA.

Molly Rose Levine: Executive Director, Clowns Without Borders USA

Molly Rose Levine speaking at TEDxBushwick

What is your passion?

Helping people connect, and communication! The Clowns Without Borders: Intersection of performing arts and humanitarian aid. Encouraging and sharing resilience through laughter.

How are you putting your passion to a purpose?

I run an amazing nonprofit called Clowns Without Borders!

We are a 21 year old NGO that shares moments of laughter and levity to children and families in crisis. We offer free performing and workshop tours for people in refugee camps, conflict zones, and natural disaster sites around the world.

Clowns Without Borders

How did you get started?

After graduating from a 3.5 year study abroad program with a degree in Global Studies, concentration in violence against marginalized ethnic groups, I spend two years developing my skills as a project manager by working on underground art events, burning man events, and interesting installations in NYC.

After a few years, I felt that my skills were strong enough that there was no good reason for me to not try to “do my good where it does the most” and reintegrate myself into a humanitarian field. Just a few days after making that decision, I came across a help wanted for a volunteer administrator for Clowns Without Borders in an underground events list-serve. The rest, as they say…

Why do you do it?

I believe in the transformational power of positivity and laughter to change energy, no matter the circumstances.

I believe that children deserve moments of levity and ease, regardless of what side of which political spectrum they fall on. I believe in the importance of sharing ease and laughter with people in crisis, who don’t have the luxury of relaxation or entertainment. It’s a humbling honor to serve the mission of Clowns Without Borders, and I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling way to spend my time at this point in my life.

Clowns Without Borders

Favorite thing about what you do?

That the message transcends circumstances. My absolute favorite moment is watching the faces of refugees, displaced people, or people in the middle of the worst days of their lives crack a smile, a giggle, a belly laugh. Seeing these moments of resilience through laughter is hugely inspiring, because it’s inside of everyone, whether we are there or not.

All we do is show up, create a container where people have permission to let go of their stress, and the incredible courage that shines through everyone in our audience, is the most inspiring thing for me.

How can others help?

People can help by donating to our cause and spreading awareness about our mission. We are a grassroots organization, and we’re funded in large part by individual donors.

  • In order to donate and become a member, please visit:
  • If you’re interested in becoming a major donor or sponsor, then please e-mail
  • Please like us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and like and share our posts to help others find out about us!
  • If you’re interested in volunteering, we always have needs for almost any skill set. Send us an e-mail to start a relationship with us!


Who are your heroes?

Wavy Gravy and Jane Elliot.

If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower?

The power to communicate in ANY LANGUAGE (including with plants, animals, computer code).

Clowns Without Borders

What is your favorite non-profit organization or cause?

Of course it is Clowns Without Borders, and aside from us, an organization that I LOVE is called No More Deaths. They are based in Arizona and believe that there’s no need for anyone to die while trying to cross the border into the united states. They patrol the border lands, make food and water drops, and give those picked up by Border Patrol access to support, and demand dignity for migrants.

Who else should be a kind badass of the week?

The ladies who started THINX. They created panties for people with periods! Amazing!


How one Lebanese woman is clowning around to bring laughter to refugees

Florence Massena Posted November 18, 2015

According to the UNHCR, almost 677,000 refugees have arrived on the Greek islands in 2015.

One of these islands, Lesbos, is particularly affected, with the vast majority of these refugees landing on rubber boats on the beach.

In an effort to bring a bit of laughter and joy to their journey, four clowns came for two weeks, performing every day to the great pleasure of the children.

 Sabine Choucair shared this link
The non-profit organization Clowns Without Borders performed for two weeks to offer moments of laughter and levity.

The group from Clowns Without Borders, an organization founded in Barcelona in 1993, committed to performing six shows a day for between 30 and 1,000 spectators at a time on Lesbos. From the United States, Clay Mazing, Luze Gaxiola and Molly Rose Levine joined Sabine Choucair, a Lebanese clown and art therapist, to bring laughter to refugees during their dangerous journey to Europe. They perform shows in refugee camps, bus stops and beaches, as well as smaller shows in a house

“In the first place, we had a project with Sabine as an art director to come visit the refugee camps in Lebanon,” Molly Rose Levine, director of Clowns Without Borders and logistician of the project, told Al-Monitor over Skype. “But instead we decided to run the project in Lesbos, because that’s where we are the most needed now. In fact, around 80% of the refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea go through Lesbos on their way to Europe.” To make the project possible, they held a 10-day fundraising campaign that raised more than $5,000 from their supporters in the United States.

What brought the team to Lesbos is the feeling of emergency they got from watching the media. “We saw that everything is happening in Lesbos now, and we felt we needed to come here, they needed to see us,” Choucair explained. “And it is good we came, because everyone seems happy to see us!”

She described the stress and the fear of the people she meets every day: “They go through a horrible journey where they put themselves in danger. They are happy to be in Europe but you can still perceive the heavy burden of emotions they carry.”

The vast majority of the refugees Clowns Without Borders met on the island are from Syria. The others are mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt and even Gaza. “I even met two Lebanese families pretending to be Syrians,” Choucair laughed.

“But they couldn’t fool me!” The team encountered families who lost everything but also single young men trying to find a way to help their families back home. While on Lesbos, they register with the local authorities, who put them, space allowing, into camps according to their nationality and family situations. They stay there between three and 10 days before leaving for Athens by ferry.

For the clowns, this project has been a very moving experience teaching them the importance of their work. “At first, when we perform, a lot of children are scared and stressed. They don’t understand where they are or what’s happening,” clown and musician Mazing told Al-Monitor. “But when we start the music, make silly faces and play with them, they become children again. It’s a very beautiful thing to see. And when parents see their children laughing again, they are happy themselves. After the show, many of them come to thank us. Sometimes they tell us it’s the first time they saw their children smile in a week.”

Some argue that what refugees need most is shelter, food and health care, but according to Graxiola, another clown and musician, “They still need to laugh, relax for a moment and allow themselves to spend a ‘normal’ time just having fun. One of the camps looks like a prison,” she said. “It’s run by the police that doesn’t have enough resources to deal with that many people. Bringing clowns in this prison-like place is humanizing.”

A lot of stories from these encounters with the refugees can be read on Choucair’s Facebook page, where she posts daily updates. For instance, on Nov. 3, there was the story of a child who heard a helicopter passing by and fell to the floor, terrified. That day, the Lebanese clown posted a moving comment: “At that specific moment I couldn’t help myself from crying. I went and hugged him, the helicopter left. We continued the show and he smiled again … I hope it will be long before he hears such sounds again.”

Even among the local community and the police, who are frustrated, outnumbered and stressed by the whole situation, the clowns’ presence is happily welcome. Mazing said, “I think everybody loves us! For example, we started playing with a police officer, who told us he wasn’t a baby anymore. Maybe he was having a bad day! But today, we came back and we started playing again with him, he started laughing and even took pictures with us.

We received so much from the police in the camps, and the volunteers helping there for weeks and weeks already. They are happy to relieve the pressure.

The local community as well, frustrated from the situation, feels better when they see clowns in their local cafe.”

Until Nov. 10, the last day of Clowns Without Borders’ time on Lesbos, Levine, Mazing, Gaxiola and Choucair continued to hear stories from the refugees, shared and laughed with them. In 2016, Clowns Without Borders will look for the next place where it is most needed to help ease the journey of the refugees to Europe.

Meanwhile, Clowns Without Borders has another project that started Nov. 8 in Nepal for the people impacted by the earthquakes, and another starting in Colombia as part of a six-year partnership with local artists in Cali, an area greatly affected by historic violence and poverty. Mazing will continue to follow the refugees until Dec. 2 with his project Emergency Circus, and is still fundraising online to do so.

Read more:



“Airplane. Hide. Hide”: the kid shouted and hid his head on the floor

Clowns Without Borders, Clay Mazing, Luz Gaxiola Molly Rose Clown Me In

 Sabine Choucair shared this post

Today while performing in the UNHCR waiting area of one of the camps, a 10 year old kid was enjoying the show until he heard the sound of a helicopter. pure coincidence; I was looking at him at that specific moment.

His world collapsed, his smile turned into extreme fear, he looked at the sky then in no time put his and the two other kids’ heads on the floor and shouted : ” an airplane an airplane – hide hide”.

But the other kids didn’t understand why he was acting this way and they did not obey…
That terrified him even more. He was shivering so much.

Not sure if he knew the other kids or just felt responsible for the ones next to him at that specific moment. But what I’m sure of is that this kid saw all the airplanes that once flew over his house in Syria in one fraction of a second.

At that specific moment I couldn’t help myself from crying. I went and hugged him, the helicopter left. We continued the show and he smiled again…
I hope it will be long before he hears such sounds again.

Another amazing story and encounter

Clowns Without Borders's photo.

Clowns Without Borders

November 2, 2015

Tonight in Lesvos we heard a story that brings us so much joy.

One of the volunteers doing aid work on the island said that for the first time since arriving in Lesvos she cried out of happiness after seeing a ‪#‎clownswithoutborders‬ show for the refugees.

She has cried plenty since arriving, but never from joy until now. Huge thank you’s from the clowns to all of the aid workers and volunteers doing great work. You make it possible for us to do our work!

Clowns Without Borders, Clay Mazing, Luz Gaxiola Molly Rose Clown Me In

Clowns Without Borders witnessed a capsized boat at night: casualties

 Sabine Choucair posted this Oct. 29, 2015

Lesvos is where you can plan nothing ahead of time; even deciding to go to the toilet involved two shows because… why not?

And what else we’re here for!

At night, it was a different story. we heard of a boat that had capsized with 400 people on it. We ran there not in clown costumes.

I was translating, supporting wounded people, people who lost family members, women and kids.

Molly and Luz helping with distributing warm clothes to the lucky ones who made it and Clay playing music sometimes and supporting us some other times.

There was this man in his 40s, crying so much. I thought he had lost a family member like many others around.

We sat together and he recounted that the moment they started swimming he saw a baby in a life jacket drowning, he held him tight and swam and swam and swam… then looked to check on him to realize that he was only holding the life jacket.

The baby slipped away and with him this man’s soul got lost in the sea

Our first performances in lesvos …
We’ve done one camp and a harbor so far.
It is so beautiful to be able to draw smiles on bored, tired, anxious, worried faces.
Thank you @clownswithoutborders Luz Gaxiola Clay Mazing and Molly Rose for being an amazing team.

Sabine Choucair's photo.
Sabine Choucair's photo.
Sabine Choucair's photo.
Sabine Choucair's photo.
Sabine Choucair's photo.

Clown Me In Clowns Without Borders Molly Rose Luz Gaxiola Clay Mazing




January 2023

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