“The show is short and sweet, probably the best show we do that day because we feel more comfortable with one another. After our performance, the doctors and nurses thank us and tell us that after their own traumatic experiences, we have really helped them in ways we can’t see.”
-Geoff Marsh, performing artist
Clowns Without Borders partnered with Médecins Sans Frontières-France (MSF-France) for a special project in Haiti. In addition to performing in hospitals, CWB led “Find Your Funny” workshops for MSF staff.
Both MSF and CWB have long histories in Haiti. CWB first toured Haiti after Hurricane Jeanne in 2004. Haiti experiences annual damage during hurricane season, which has a ripple effect on the nation. MSF has provided disaster-response care and ongoing support to the Haitian medical infrastructure for the past 19 years. After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, MSF responded to strikes at public hospitals, set up cholera treatment centers, and brought medical supplies to towns that had been cut off. On this tour, CWB worked with MSF in Port-Au-Prince, with a focus on MSF’s centers for pediatric burns and gender-based crimes.
Aid workers and health care providers are impacted by secondary trauma, which can lead to compassion fatigue and burnout. CWB’s “Find Your Funny” workshops addressed how these professionals can use laughter to alleviate the stress of their jobs and spark moments of joy for themselves, each other, and their patients.
After a week with MSF, CWB traveled south and reunited with MJC, a Haitian-led youth group. We facilitated workshops for MJC and performed for villages impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
This tour was a mix of workshops, performances, and hospital visits—skill sets that were reflected in our team. The artists for this tour included Kaitlin Kaufman, Geoff Marsh, and Naomi Shafer.
For more information about MSF’s work in Haiti, look here.
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