We Work Anywhere
CWB-USA has worked in settings from urban centers to rural pastures in communities that are reachable only by boat. We have hiked through jungles, ridden on horseback and even once had to swim a river with our gear held above our heads. During one field project in Colombia, we drove up treacherous mountains to a remote community of coffee farmers who had been displaced by war. One child saw our show and said, “You are the clowns that came to us!” His radiant smile echoed his enthusiasm; his mother told us that before our visit no arts group had ever come to their community.
We Meet Psychosocial Needs
CWB-USA designs its field programs to best suit the psychosocial needs of communities by working in close coordination with our partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs, see below). CWB-USA provides innovative programming that helps our partners achieve their psychosocial objectives. For example, theatre workshops provide creative exercises that help children learn to work and play together. Performances in the community can often bring together previously segregated groups while providing a safe setting for all people to laugh together.
We Volunteer As Artists
Our volunteer artists are professional performers who devise their own clown performances. Our audiences have been as large as 8,000 people. We also provide workshops for groups ranging from 5 to 50 people. We design our projects to be flexible and culturally appropriate where we work. Our programs aim to build resiliency through laughter and play.
We Go Where We Are Invited
Sometimes clown artists are not appropriate for a particular setting. That is why we rely on partner organizations and individuals to invite us to come to a place. When a trusted local organization sends a call to us, we do our best to respond promptly and energetically.
We Build Community Relationships
CWB-USA is often invited back year after year to work with the same communities and local artists. CWB-USA has worked in Haiti with an NGO called Terre des Hommes annually since the 2010 earthquake. Ongoing partnerships in Colombia since 2009 and southern Mexico since 1995 further illustrate CWB-USA’s sustainability and the close working relationships we have nurtured with our partners.
We Work With Communities in Crisis
Crisis can be an ambiguous term. CWB-USA has worked in refugee camps, shelters rapidly constructed after natural disasters, safe homes for women and children, and schools in countries entrenched in poverty or disease. Our shows and workshops are portable, so we can go where asked. Everyone suffers, and we do not discriminate over which type of suffering deserves more attention.
We Value Partnerships
CWB-USA works with relief organizations addressing the psychosocial needs of those who are suffering from traumatic situations. We are neither doctors, psychologists nor social workers, but along with professionals and community participation, we devise joyful experiences to help children and their communities thrive.
We Do Things Differently
Volunteering for a Clowns Without Borders project is a rewarding and challenging task. We only go where we are invited and meet our audiences wherever they happen to be on the planet. This means we frequently go where the roads do not. Rarely is there a stage with lighting, rigging, seating, or electricity. We may have multiple performances a day and the settings can be as diverse as the audience. Generally speaking, a show or workshop with us is different from a traditional stage performance or classroom setting. The stage is often a space that we create, anywhere we’ve been asked to reach people. Other important considerations of a Clowns Without Borders project include:
- Travel: Road conditions, footpath conditions, and traffic, etc., may be strenuous.
- Unique Performance Preparation: Shows have to come together quickly, sometimes in 24 hours or less. We are there to perform and need to get started as quickly as possible to share laughter with as many children as we can! Our artists often perform with clowns they have never met before.
- Health: Some places where we travel require vaccinations before departing to ensure a volunteer’s health and wellness.
We serve all people, especially children, in crisis. The experience of being on a Clowns Without Borders project is thrilling, humbling, and powerful. We want our beloved volunteers to be prepared for the emotional and physical challenges of a tour.
We also have an education program: Take Laughter With You