Geoff Marsh, aka Gypsy Geoff recently toured to Haiti, along with Kaitlin Kauffman and our very own Development Director, Naomi Shaffer. During this tour, CWB – USA participated in a special partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières-France (MSF-France), leading workshops for hospital staff, in addition to our regular performances for community members. In this blog post, the clowns wrap up their tour to Haiti.
Three shows are scheduled for today and our first performance is in a huge religious ceremonial hall that’s only half filled with audience members. This show is also the debut of our new giant bubble wand. It makes a bubble over 15 feet long, and the kids’ eyes practically exploded out of their heads when they saw it.
Our next show is outside of Gran Goave in a little rural shantytown. The venue is in a small covered outdoor church, and the pastor asks us to parade through town to raise awareness of our show. As we gather as many kids as we can, I notice a mentally distressed woman staring at a door and talking to herself. It makes me think about the relative differences in privilege and financial ability that we’ve encountered, even in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. The school children we’ve already performed for on this trip have families who can pay for their education, while in rural areas, like the one we’re in now, the even deeper poverty is evident. As we turn a corner, a woman in a wheelchair sees us and lights up with joy.
The preacher opens our show by asking the kids to sing, which is always our favorite way to start and end shows. Halfway through, our tiny outdoor stage is filled with people from all parts of the community, young kids to grandparents. It was a joyful experience to be able to offer them relief through laughter.
For our last show of the day, we perform in the middle of town in front of the community center. Before we start I play with the kids, who all know my name by now. We’re throwing hats on each other’s head while Kaitlin and Naomi dance with the kids they’ve run into repeatedly throughout our workshops.
We end up with an audience of 110 grateful people. Afterward, Kaitlin plays with her bubble wand and Naomi instigates a dance party. I’m able to sit back and appreciate Kaitlin and Naomi as they connect with the kids, spending some quality time with them. All these children want in the world is to be noticed and recognized, and tonight we’re giving every kid the attention they deserve.