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A clown performs to a crowd of refugees

Njabulo: South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho 2005


Project Njabulo’s mission is to provide psychosocial support through laughter and humor to children and communities affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty in Southern Africa.  As Clowns Without Borders’ second expedition to the region, we greatly expanded our work to include South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland.

From September 1st, 2005 to January 23rd, 2006, three teams from the United States, Belgium, and Ireland visited communities in South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland.  They performed over 100 times for more than 30,000 children.  The teams also taught 16 workshops including 5 week-long Clown Residencies.  Through individual donations, benefit performances, volunteer contributions, and corporate sponsorship, Project Njabulo raised $34,879.85.  The total costs for the project came in at $32,324.76.

Project Goals

The primary goal for Project Njabulo was to provide psychosocial support for children affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis.  This is paramount to their recovery and ability to cope with the destabilizing effects of trauma and loss.  Psychosocial support services complement community and health organizations’ focus on poverty and health issues.  They address children’s need for emotional wellbeing and a sense of identity, community, and belonging.  Project Njabulo provides this through performances, workshops, and informal interaction – activities that allow a child to be a child again in a safe and protective environment.

Project Njabulo 2005 had the following objectives:

  1. Interact with as Many Children as Possible – Schedule performances and workshops to bring laughter and emotional recovery to wide range of communities.
  2. Strengthen Relationships – Continue to collaborate with organizations and communities visited during our first expedition in 2004 building their capacity to generate their own celebrations of laughter.
  3. Target New Areas of Focus – Gather information for future expeditions through an exploratory mission in Lesotho and Swaziland as well as the Guateng Province in South Africa.
  4. Expand Programs and Interaction with Affected Population – Provide workshops and week-long Clown Residencies in site visits to complement performances and increase potential for emotional relief.
  5. Identify Local Collaborators – Begin to develop local Clowns Without Borders chapters by identifying performers and volunteers who can build a sustainable organization in Southern Africa.


Project Njabulo 2005  focused primarily on children ages 4 to 18 and their caregivers who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and poverty.

In Southern Africa and throughout the continent, HIV/AIDS has had a enormous impact on the lives of the most vulnerable – children.  In 2004, there were over a million children orphaned in South Africa due to the epidemic.  In Lesotho and Swaziland, infection rates are over 30% and 40%, respectively, of the population.  These children are either living on the streets, in children’s homes, or continue to live with surviving parents or their extended families.  They are at an extremely vulnerable period of their life.  They need positive and caring interaction as well as opportunities for creative expression as they recover from loss, grief, and depression.  Furthermore, they require opportunities to play, laugh, and be children once again.  Often affected children are concentrated in schools which resulted in site visits to many primary and high schools.  We also worked in drop-in centre, community halls and centers, churches, children’s homes, and even township streets.


As aforementioned, this year’s mission was from September 1st, 2005 to January 23rd, 2006.  During this period, the expedition was divided into 3 sections:

Part One

September 1st to October 17th:  3 weeks of performances in KwaZulu/Natal (KZN) and Swaziland followed by two week-long Clown Residencies with the Woza Moya Project and Rob Smetherham Bereavement Service for Children in KZN.

Part Two

November 1st to December 12th:  3 weeks of exploratory mission performances in the Guatend Province of South Africa with Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity (NOAH) and throughout Lesotho organized by Save the Children, Lesotho.  This was followed by a week-   long Clown Residency at Amazing Grace Children’s Home in Malelane near the border of Mozambique in South Africa.

Part Three

January 2nd to January 22nd – One week of performances with NOAH followed by two week-long Clown Residencies at Amazing Grace Children’s Home in Johannesburg and Makaphutu Children’s Village in KZN (project led by Sarah Liane Foster in collaboration with Irish clown delegation).


A total of 9 clowns participated in Project Njabulo 2005 from the United States, Belgium, and Ireland.  They were joined for a short period by a documentary photographer from Belgium and a researcher on innovative health care initiatives from the United States.

United States Participants

  • Farzaneh Behroozi (Research fellow)
  • Timothy Cunningham (Clown)
  • Perry Daniel (Clown)
  • Sarah Liane Foster (Clown, Project leader)
  • Jamie McLaren Lachman (Project Director)
  • Selena McMahan (Clown)

Belgian Participants

  • Esther Haddad (Clown)
  • Ellen van den Bouwhuysen (Photographer)

Irish Participants

  • Jonathan Gunning (Clown)
  • Patrick Gunning (Clown)
  • Bryan Quinn (Clown)

Partner Organizations

Project Njabulo collaborated with a wide range of organizations and individuals who work with children affected by HIV/AIDS on a daily basis. They include children’s homes, community organizations, children support services, hospitals, Peace Corps Volunteers, and private individuals:

South African Partners

  • African Dream Circus
  • Amazing Grace Children’s Home
  • Angel’s Home
  • God’s Golden Acre
  • Howick and Mphophomeni Hospices
  • Ladybrand Hospice
  • Makaphutu Children’s Village
  • Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity
  • Rob Smetherham Bereavement Service for Children
  • Sunbeam Organization
  • Woza Moya Project
  • Zululand Backpackers

Swaziland Partners

  • Designing Hope
  • Red Cross Swaziland
  • Rescue Team for Swaziland
  • Swaziland SOS Children’s Village

Lesotho Partners

  • Kananelo School for the Deaf
  • Lesotho Child Counseling Unit
  • Lesotho Girl Guides Association
  • Leribe Ts’oanelo Care Centre
  • Malealea Pony Trek Centre
  • Mants’ase Children’s Home
  • Maseru SOS Children’s Village
  • Save the Children, Lesotho
  • Sekamaneng Children’s Home
  • Semonkong Lodge

There is more!!! If you want a complete report, please contact us.

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