In 2015, Payasos Sin Fronteras (the Spanish chapter of Clowns Without Borders) performed in Sierra Leone. At the time, one of our volunteers, Tim Cunningham, was working as an Ebola first responder. After years of performing with CWB, this was Tim’s first experience as an audience member, an experience he shares about on our blog.
Sierra Leone, is a West African country, bordered by Liberia and Guinea. Its coastal location attracted Europeans, and it became a significant port town during the transatlantic slave trade. Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, was founded in 1787 to repatriate former slaves. The country’s modern history developed alongside its diamond trade. The gems fueled a 10 year civil war, from 1991 until 2002, when the United Nation declared that the disarmament was complete. In 2012, UN war crimes court concluded its investigations. After a decade of war, followed by a decade of sanctions and reconciliation, Sierra Leone turned a corner in 2012, when it held its first election without UN oversight.
In July 2014, Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency in response to the Ebola epidemic. The World Health Organization estimates that 14,000 people were infected, out of which more than 4,000 died. In 2017, Clowns Without Borders – Sweden contacted us about collaborating on a project to bring laughter to children impacted by the epidemic.