Clowns Deliver Smiles and Laughter to Areas Hit by Typhoon
With the support of Plan International, Clowns Without Borders (CWB), an organization that uses humor as a means of providing psychosocial support to communities, has been providing smiles to the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines.
The community, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan six months ago in November 2013, is in need of laughter.
“During the Clowns Without Borders show, the clowns help children shift their attention from worries and fears and bring them back to moments of laughter and joy,” said Roy Tjan, Plan's Child Protection in Emergencies adviser. “Important messages about protection from violence and abuse, about friendship and health and hygiene can be integrated in funny sketches that are both attractive and entertaining for children. The shows enable children to be [children] again, be playful and relax for a while. This is vital for their well-being and it greatly contributes to children´s resilience after a disaster.”
The clowns first visited the affected communities over the Christmas period in 2013. Following the success of their initial visit, another team from CWB arrived a few months later to perform and conduct workshops for youth volunteers in Plan’s child-friendly spaces, which were specifically set up by Plan following the typhoon, giving children a place to play and relax. Plan sees these sessions as an important step for children in their recovery process.
For Cesar Fulgencio of CWB Sweden, performing for the typhoon-affected children proved to be a very personal experience. Born in the Philippines, Cesar’s family migrated to Sweden in 1986. His performance with CWB brought him back to the Philippines for the first time since he left as a child.
“It was breathtaking,” he said. “There is obviously a lot being done to help people rebuild their lives. It’s a long process, and I am happy to bring a bit of laughter to the children.”
Besides performances, Plan and CWB also hold workshops for talented youth in the typhoon-affected areas. In January, 40 youth from Visayas State University in Tolosa, Leyte, were trained by CWB to perform for children in affected communities within their region.
This month, CWB held follow-up workshops with the 40 youth performers. The youth have done so well that just last month, they performed in Tacloban for an audience of more than 800 children and adults.
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