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Haiti 2010: Earthquake Response

February 12, 2010:
A letter from Tim Cunningham (CWB USA Board President)

When the tragic events of January 12th demolished Haiti, Clowns Without Borders began to receive phone calls and emails asking “How do I help?” and “What will Clowns Without Borders do?” We suggested that our supporters donate to ‘first responder’ organizations such as Medecins Sans Frontières and Partners in Health. All the while we have been organizing our clown volunteers to be prepared to go to Haiti to provide the ‘secondary support’ of laughter and psychosocial health through play. Not wanting to get in the way of the important and immediate relief efforts so greatly needed, we felt it was important to wait patiently for our partners to send out the call for support from the clowns.

Bring in the Clowns.

Recently we have been approached by numerous aid organizations seeking help to bring a spirit of laughter, joy and small moments of emotional relief to those affected by the earthquake. Our sister organization, Payasos Sin Fronteras (PSF) in Spain is sending their first group of volunteer artists to meet some those needs next week. CWB has been invited to join PSF starting in March. We will send volunteer artists from the USA to partner with Spanish clowns in Jacmel, Les Cayes and around Port au Prince. In late March CWB will send medical clowns with a team from Boston to the northern city of Cap Haitian to perform and provide support at makeshift tent clinics that are serving thousands of displaced and injured children from Port au Prince.

This is just the beginning.

In the past, we have learned that by arriving in a community and performing a show or two leads to tidal waves of the “word of mouth effect.” Other community organizations hear about our work and invite us to perform and give workshops for the children and the community. We anticipate our efforts in March and early April to do the same, perhaps even on a larger scale now that informal camps are springing up all over the countryside with the million-plus homeless Haitians.
At CWB we are strategically preparing for multiple trips and projects from Jacmel to Les Cayes, from Port au Prince to Cap Haitian with our partners in Haiti. We are also seeking volunteers from such esteemed groups as the Big Apple Circus Clown Care© program to help us provide the best hospital clowning we can.

Your continued financial support will make this happen.

In trying to meet the requests of our partners in Haiti, CWB is facing a new demand for volunteers and funds, much larger than the demands we have experienced before. We need your assistance through donations to help meet the needs of our partners in Haiti. Your tax-deductible donations will enable us to send multiple Clowns Without Borders groups to Haiti over the coming year and beyond.

We dream of supporting those displaced and traumatized by the earthquakes that have left over 200,000 people dead. We hope to bring shows and workshops to children of all ages in Haiti and with that, we plan to train Haitian artists in the circus arts so that when CWB departs, there will remain the capacity to experience joy and laughter through community performance.

Our goals are lofty; you can help us achieve them.

Yours Truly,
Tim Cunningham
CWB USA Board President