“The translator is kept busy, because they have so much to say about how the exercises are affecting them. They say that the games are filling them with life and energy, and giving them a time to forget their sadness. One of the elder men says that they feel forgotten here. He says that to have us come makes them feel remembered and important.”
-Bekah Smith, performing artist
Clowns Without Borders chapters from South Africa, USA and Sweden returned to South Sudan in April 2017, to work in partnership with USAID’s Office of Transition and Conflict Mitigation VISTAS programme. VISTAS aims to increase capacity to manage conflict and tensions, promote a more informed community, and engage communities in trauma awareness to lay a foundation for healing and reconciliation.
The 19-day tour in South Sudan consisted of performances and workshops facilitated by six talented artists from South Africa, the United States, Brazil, and Sweden. We visited camps in Bentiu, Malakal, and Juba to perform for internally displaced children. We also provided training to local facilitators and youth on integrating arts-based approaches into existing services in their communities.
The ongoing civil war in South Sudan has left millions of families without homes. Many children have witnessed alarming levels of violence and experienced trauma that is very distressing and heartbreaking. The war has stripped them of their fundamental children’s rights: to laugh, play, dream, and most of all, to be safe.
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