Sabine demonstrates a hand gesture to the audience

Reaching the Dream Land

CWB – USA is on tour along the Balkan Route, traveled by migrants fleeing violence and persecution in the Middle East and North Africa. Sabine Choucair, longtime CWB collaborator and founder of Clown Me In, writes about lessons best learned from kids. 

Day Three

There are only men around on our third day of performance in the Balkans. It’s sunny outside, but very quiet. The police want to look at all of our clown gear: a rubber chicken, noisy pigs, hoops, juggling balls, lassos—everything. They greet us with formal and serious police faces. We enter a big building where we plan to perform, and a few smiles and laughs erupt at the site of three clowns. But darkness, damp and the smell of rotten souls covers the place. We clowns are the only colorful thing in this darkness.

I walk in and feel the heaviness of the space, despite the smiles around us. We gather a group of 500 men in no time at all, along with a handful of kids and women. We perform for an hour and a half, our longest show so far. Each time we’re about to end, a feeling inside tells us to keep going.

The men here were caught in forests and sent to this place against their will. It was only fair for us to share more and offer a bit of joy. Two Syrians tell me, after the show, that they were actually kidnapped in Kosovo and have been in this place for the past nine months. One guy in a wheelchair has rotten feet (I can’t shake that from my mind), and there are images of misery on all sides. But we’re here too. Hassan, an Iranian guitar player, joins us and plays some songs. The audience participation during our show makes a big, positive difference. On the way out, a girl is happy to see me. She says, “Hey, I know you. We met in Greece last year.” Maybe we’ll next meet in the dream land, and hopefully she’ll still recognize me.

We leave with heavy hearts, but also with a bit of joy. We’re able to share laughs and the small hope that spring is arriving and maybe, just maybe, some of these guys will eventually make it to the dream land, away from war and oppression. I’m thankful to be with David Lichtenstein, who is unstoppable, and Dustin J. Allen, who keeps performing despite an injury sustained during a fall.

Day Four

It’s our last day in Bosnia, specifically in Sarajevo, where people prepare to go to the borders. Many of them don’t know they’ll be stopped mid-way by the police, and left on the side of the road. At least Sanella Lepirica, an awesome woman, and her father are trying to find a way to help (check her out if you want to help, too).

We perform again for many men and some kids. Those kids…oh my goodness. They laugh non-stop and enjoy the show immensely. They love all of our small, silly jokes—not bad for a final day’s lesson. After that show, we play at a train station with members of the Roma community. They hoop and spin balls for a whole hour without getting bored or tired. Also not a bad lesson to learn from kids: Be silly, laugh when you can, and enjoy the tiniest moments of life. Thanks kids.

We’re off to the forests of Serbia. I wonder what’s waiting for us there.

The Value of a Show

People often ask, “Why clowns?” Sometimes, our performers ask, “What am I doing here, as a clown?” Clowning can be confusing, especially amidst the complexity and scarcity that surrounds human migration. As Dustin learns more about the lives of the audience members, he finds his own answer to, “Why clowns?”

Dustin J. Allen

Today, we put on one of the best shows I’ve ever been part of. A group of young men from Afghanistan live on the abandoned farm pictured below. It’s located beyond the outskirts of a small city here in Serbia. They wait to make a run at crossing the border, or, better yet, for some borders to open. Some guys have been here over a year.

This is our first show without a single child in the audience. The volunteer who brought us out says she has worked with some of these guys for five months and has never seen them smile before tonight. Each was beaming during the show, and the laughter was wild.

Some people ask why men are in these camps, without women and children, without their families. Conditions on these routes are extremely harsh, violent and, frankly, inhumane. If a man can make it alone, without subjecting his family to such dangers, he can begin the reunification process in whichever place he takes asylum.

Others have asked why people leave home in the first place. These guys tonight, for example, tell us that half the kids in most families in Afghanistan die, and that 42 countries maintain a military presence. It’s not safe for locals to leave their homes during most hours of the day, because death and destruction are constant. These guys deeply despise Da’esh (ISIS) and the Taliban. But they also resent the forceful presence of countries, like the United States, which continue to wreak havoc in their homeland.

Finally, some people ask, “What are you doing here, giving performances with a red nose and a mandolin? Don’t refugees have more pressing needs?” Well, there are amazing organizations providing all kinds of vital support along the Balkan Route. But every time a volunteer thanks us with tears in their eyes for bringing unprecedented joy into a camp, or a child who has experienced horror laughs and smiles for most of an hour, or an adult shakes our hands, hugs us, and expresses a profound gratitude from the bottom of their heart, I learn more about the value of putting on a show.

Balkans 2019

A Place With No Name

Some refugee camps are on maps. Many are not. As CWB – USA travels along the Balkan Route, we work with local organizers to gain trust and access to refugees who gather in informal or temporary “camps.” Often, migrants’ experiences are shaped by individuals who grant or deny access, shelter, humanity. 

Dustin J. Allen

March 6 

On the way from Bihaç to Sarajevo, our tour manager prompts us to stop at a “special place.” What’s pictured below may not look like much more than a pile of planks in the dirt, but this is the temporary rest point for more than 1,600 migrants over the last five months. Some families stay here for over a week at a time. Every bus and car on its way from Sarajevo toward Bihaç is searched, and any migrants are removed by the police and left here with no resources—except those provided by Sanella’s project, a volunteer initiative consisting of herself, her father, and this plot of land. At one point this winter, there were over 100 people huddled around the fire here, sleeping in the open air of the cold night.

Here, on the line between two counties, the police have basically constructed yet another border for people to overcome, albeit an unofficial one. Each of the two cities says they have too many migrants, and that the situation is causing problems.

The officials in Bihaç initiated the police stop here in Kljuc, and the Bihaç authorities now randomly pick up migrants off the streets of their town and surrounding area, sending them back to this spot.

Sanella provides blankets, food, and water for washing and drinking, and calls every camp near the border to try and get migrants under a roof. There is no shelter which Sanella and her father can offer here, but their support is vital. She makes calls, raises funds, gathers resources, and does literally everything she can to get each migrant to a better place. We plan to play for one family she’s hosting, but when we arrive she’s thrilled to tell us the family has been taken to shelter.

We ask what we can do. Sanella says, “Tell the story to as many people as you can, and hope to pressure the government into creating a real solution for these people.” Spring is coming soon and another 20,000 migrants are expected to make their way through Bosnia…

A clown hugs children in a refugee camp

The Game

Clowns Without Borders performances are a time of levity for people whose lives may have none. In Bosnia, Dustin and Sabine talk with audience members about their experiences of being refugees, specifically of playing “The Game.”


It’s day two of performances in the Balkans. We already performed for 200 men on our first day, and I was once again reminded that clowning is for all ages. The show was a huge success, big laughs and a lot of happy faces enjoying the meaningful, honest moments of interaction.

On that day, on the way out, I met a little three-year-old kid who was amazed by the tiniest bubbles, he had a big redish-blue scar on the left side of his face. I asked his Syrian mother, “Where did this come from?” and she said, “Oh yesterday he fell when we were doing ‘The Game.'”*

Today it all makes sense. We perform for the wildest kids ever, and afterward they gather around us. One of the most talkative ones starts playing The Game. She has such a strong character and is a brilliant storyteller. With all her power and loud voice she starts acting out their game from last night:

All the kids running around the playground follow her—their leader—and then BOOM, she shouts, “POLICE, POLICE!” All the kids fall to the ground and become quiet, hiding. Then they’re off again, running around. She shouts, “POLICE, POLICE!” a second time, and all the kids fall to the ground, quiet!

Then they get caught by the police.

She continues the story from the previous night: “They put us in this closed van! No windows, very crazy roads. We started vomiting, but they didn’t stop. They just kept driving and sent us back to this camp in Bosnia.”

This is when it all made sense to me.

A clown hugs children in a refugee campWe perform for kids between four and 12 years old. Last night, and all the previous nights for the past five months at least, they were caught by the police and sent back to the camps. Most of them come from Syria and Iraq. Some from Iran.

The police tell them, “Your countries are safe now. Go back to where you came from.”

I leave with mixed feelings of extreme happiness and extreme sadness. We got to play with them, to learn the importance of play, of laughter, and of resilience, but we also re-learn the cruelty of humans.

*The Game is the name they give to their act of crossing the borders. They go to The Game every other night or so.


Today, I spoke to a highly educated young man who was forced to run from Afghanistan more than two years ago. Everything he owned—including his family home—was seized, and his life threatened by corrupt military forces. His whole community was either killed or forced to flee.

No country will give him citizenship because he travels with his sister who is “fully disabled.” So far, no nation is willing to take her in, due to her disability.

When they try to cross borders, he carries her on his back. Last time they were caught, he and his sister were both beaten by Croatian police. He showed me photos of her wounds, as well as many other photos from his journey. They wait here in Bosnia, and he told me he specifically dreams of someday reuniting with his aunt and uncle in Canada.

Over the last few days, I’ve heard dozens of stories similar to this,  first-hand from the people living it, from human rights workers, from my experienced colleagues, and so on.


Leah holds a hoop in the air while standing on Naomi's back

Creating a Clown Show About Landmines

Leah Abel writes about working with the Mines Advisory Group in Myanmar to create a clown show with an educational component. 

Leah Abel

Staying Flexible

When working with clowns, it’s safe to assume they’ll run with punches, switch on a dime, and try new ideas. When working with Clowns Without Borders, these skills are essential. Plans are liable to change, whether it’s the daily schedule or in the middle of a show.

Our tour to Myanmar is no different. There are places we’re set to go, and then can’t. Often, there’s little information about why. The criteria for entry has simply changed, or permission is rescinded. Fortunately, there are plenty of other places where we can take our fun and engaging show…about landmine safety. Yep. A clown show about landmine safety.

Learning about Land Mines

We’re partnering with the Mines Advisory Group, affectionately known as MAG. We set out to create a show with four central messages geared toward communities MAG determines to be at risk, due to past incidents with landmines. MAG works to remove landmines in many countries, but in Myanmar the organization still lacks permission to remove or officially mark land mines and other unexploded devices.

In 2018 alone, between January and October, there have been 285 reported civilian incidents resulting in death or injury from landmines, or one every 26 hours. It takes a dedicated crew of clowns to make an entertaining and hilarious show about such a difficult topic. We all have a lot of our own learning to do, so we can understand the situation on the ground.

What The Show Looks Like

How do we do it? I thought you would never ask! We start off with a typical Clowns Without Borders show to get the attention of the crowd. We trip and bump into each other, and balance objects. After a few acts we “discover” two large banners with pictures of landmines and other unexploded objects (UXO). We bring up the local MAG staff, and they describe the banners, showing what potential landmines and other UXOs might look like.

The MAG staff explains that these explosives are often buried underground so they may be only partially visible, if at all. UXOs have been recently discovered in new areas. The MAG staff had previously shared their key safety messages with us, so we make them clown-y and fun for the show: Four gestures to remember mine safety, which the audience can practice and perform with us!

Safety Messages

Since our audience is primarily kids (usually very young) we need to focus on the essentials. Our key messages are:

  • If you see something, don’t touch it.
  • If you see something, tell an adult immediately.
  • ALWAYS stay on the safe, well traveled path.
  • If you see an “X” in your path (the unofficial way of marking potential danger), turn around and go back.

MAG helps us encourage the audience to perform these gestures at the beginning of the show, during the show when we, as clowns, encounter dilemmas related to mine safety, and then finally at the end of the show. Audience helpers join us at the end.

Measuring Impact

So how are we doing? MAG conducted interviews before we arrived, to document existing knowledge about mines, and then again after the show. The good news is, after the show people report understanding the messages. In six months, MAG will follow up. We hope that in six to nine months from now the reports show the communities we’re performing for not only remember our messages but also follow them.

I hope they remember the safety messages AND the clown moments, like Andres hitting himself in the butt with a Diablo. Even though I feel like I’ve learned more in the past two weeks than I have in the past four months, we’re only catching glimpses of all there is to know, learn and feel from being in Myanmar. I only wish our work was creating a show about mimes, not mines. Sorry! I can’t help myself.

Clowns run in a circle inside a giant hula hoop

The Right to Migrate—Part II

Darina Robles is the founder of Llaven nü, a social circus program in Mexico. She has twice partnered with CWB – USA for tours in Mexico, and most recently collaborated on our October, 2018 tour. She writes about the strength that’s shared between performer and migrant.

Darina Robles

One Last Goodbye

We say goodbye because the train might leave at any moment. Suddenly I hear someone calling to me from the train, “Gallina! Gallina!” I’m so happy that someone who attended one of our performances recognizes me and still carries the memory of our laughter together. He gives me a big smile. I have to confess that I would l prefer my character to be a migratory bird called “Playerita,” but in reality, I’m dressed as a chicken. Almost all the migrants recognize me. I may be a chicken, but I’m a brave one, and I’m also a clown with an unstoppable dream of a better world for all humanity.  

As the train pulls away, I climb into a wagon on the side of the road. I see my inseparable friends, the ones I met at the beginning of this tour! They recognize me, and we say goodbye, with joy and hope in our hearts that everything we dream of will come true. 

All of us clowns get back in the truck, and we drive in silence—everyone is with their own emotions and thoughts. I feel joy, because I had a chance to remember the laughter we shared, but I also feel hurt by the injustice these migrants face. It’s a reflection of our dehumanized world. I have a hard time understanding what humanity is trying to build, why corporations and nations think they’re more important than human beings. I think about Alex, a migrant who told me, “I liked the part in your performance when you migrate looking for food, and a wizard turns you into a border wall.” I thanked him and asked him what he would say to the wall. He replied, “I would tell it not to last forever, and to let us cross.” 

Hearts Beating for Empathy

As I prepare to sleep on the night before our last show, I think, “It hurts my heart to know their stories, their worries, fears, and sadness. But I’m so thankful to have heard them firsthand, and not just watched the news on TV.” At the same time, I stay strong because these people share their strength with me, the strength that comes from their dreams. I’m thankful they allow me to share empathy and joy, and to remind them laughter is their friend. I remember the shining eyes and smiles after our shows, coming from people who face so much injustice. They are so human, it gives me hope for all of humanity. These migrants, and me—a migrant chicken and clown—will beat together as one heart. 

Our final show is at the World Social Forum for Migration, 2018, in Mexico City. Our performance is held in Tres Culturas Square, which witnessed the Tlatelolco massacre 50 years ago. My mother and father were students at the time, and they happened to be there. They were demonstrating for a better country, for all of us, when the military and police arrived, killing dozens of people. My parents survived to have me and my sister. I see my father at our final show, in the place where the massacre occurred. I see him remembering and laughing, his heart beating for a world of empathy, beauty and humanity.   

Darina’s blog en español

Nos despedimos porque el tren partiría en cualquier momento. De pronto escuché que me llamaban: ¡Gallina! ¡Gallina! Era un migrante montado arriba de La Bestia, como le llaman al tren. Yo estaba feliz, otro migrante que había visto nuestro espectáculo me reconocía y me regalaba una gran sonrisa. Aquí debo de confesar que yo quisiera ser una ave migrante, una ave llamada Playerita, pero en realidad soy una gallina y casi todos los migrantes que conocí me reconocieron. ¡Si! Soy una gallina, pero una gallina migrante, valiente, de oficio payasa y con el sueño imparable de un mundo mejor para tod@s y de hermosa humanidad.

El tren volvió a andar, entonces entre un vagón y otro vi a mis amigos inseparables, a los primeros que conocí en este proyecto. Me reconocieron y nos dijimos adiós con alegría y con la esperanza en mi corazón de que todo iba a ir muy bien para cumplir nuestros sueños.

Regresamos a la camioneta y seguimos nuestro camino, íbamos callados; cada uno con sus emociones, pensamientos e imágenes. Yo sentía alegría por haberles compartido el bien que hace reír jut@s y a la vez sentía dolor ante las injusticias que viven los migrantes reflejo de nuestro mundo deshumanizado. No entiendo lo que estamos construyendo como humanidad, ¿Por qué las trasnacionales y los capitales no sufren xenofobia  y son mas importantes que la vida humana y su derecho a la alegría? 

Entonces me acordé de Alex, un migrante que me dijo: Me gustó mucho el número que hiciste en el que mientras migras buscando alimento y la primavera un hechicero te convierte en muro fronterizo. Le agradecí y le pregunté: ¿Y tú qué le dirías al muro? Me respondió: Le diría que no sea eterno y que nos deje pasar. 

Mientras me preparaba para dormir el día de la última función con Recorridos por la hospitalidad pensaba: Duele en el corazón conocer sus historias, sus preocupaciones, miedos, tristezas; pero agradezco mucho haberlos escuchado y no sólo ver en televisión las noticias de los migrantes de la Caravana de Honduras. A la vez, sigo fuerte porque me contagian su fuerza, la fuerza en su sueño. Sentí agradecimiento por permitirme compartirles alegría, para que sepan que tienen la risa como amiga. Agradecí tener una razón de ser tan razonable, el hacer reír a personas en situación vulnerable. Recordé a los migrantes  que conocí con sus ojos brillantes y sonrientes después de nuestra función, que personas que viven tanta injusticia sean tan humanas me hace sentir esperanza en nosotr@s, seres humanos. En resumen, que ell@s,  l@s niñ@s y adultos migrantes y yo, la gallina migrante payasa, seguiremos latiendo y riendo juntos con un sólo corazón. 

Clowns Without Borders Girl Laughs Hard


On tour in Myanmar, Leah Abel thought about the different ways humans capture past experiences and use them as references in the future. She wondered, “How do we remember so that we learn from our past, and positively impact our communities?” Oh yeah, and she asks: why do audiences love watching clowns play dead?

Leah Abel

Dead or Alive?

After a show in a camp for internally displaced people, I hear something that sticks with me. The camp population has been there for seven years after their villages were burned during armed conflict. Myanmar has been in conflict for over 70 years, since its independence—the longest recorded civil war in history. After our show, one of the leaders of the camp shares his experience with a local staff member from MAG (Mine Advisory Group).

“The show is very important for the camp because even though the violence happened in 2011, people are constantly reminded of the trauma they faced from bombings and being pushed out of their homes. The laughter is healing and necessary for relief from this trauma. It’s a way to move on.”

There’s a favorite Clowns Without Borders scene commonly called “Dead or Alive.” In our version, I trick Naomi into thinking I’m dead. Grief-stricken she wails and cries, and then seeks support from audience members. Meanwhile, I pop up behind her back, delighted by the nasty prank I’ve pulled. To be quite frank, “Dead or Alive?” is a consistent crowd-pleaser in communities that have experienced death.

As a social worker who thinks about the impacts of trauma, I often find laughter to be one of the best ways to bond, breathe, and relax. It brings communities together and lets individuals move emotions through their body without trying to ascribe reason to feelings and reactions.



During one show, I see a girl contort her face to mirror Naomi’s. When Naomi cries, she cries. When Naomi’s face changes to confusion, so does the kid’s. I can tell exactly what Naomi is doing, because I can just look at the kid! And then she just bursts into laughter when she glances over at me enjoying my prank.

To bring this back to neuroscience: Mirror neurons are still all the rage in science and psychology these days. CWB puts some proof to the experience that when one person feels and shows something, others can feel it too. During clown shows, we see this over and over again. In fact, that’s basically the whole show. The audience laughs, cries, falls down, and experiences frustration right along with the clowns. And there’s more. We also see people laughing so hard they feel the need to squeeze, gently push or happily whap the person next to them. That’s my favorite reaction! I don’t know what science will try to say about it, but I know we’re having an effective show when a kid is so engaged they feel it all over their body, and that feeling comes out in a joyful nudge to their neighbor.



Paused train with migrants standing on top

The Right to Migrate—Part 1

Darina Robles is the founder of Llaven nü, a social circus program in Mexico. She has twice partnered with CWB – USA for tours in Mexico, and most recently collaborated on our October, 2018 tour. She writes about the natural way things migrate, except for the human-made constructs that stand in the way. 

Darina Robles

The Context of Migration

“Hello! My name is Atanasia. I’m a migratory bird, but I dream of working as a dove of peace. Until I achieve that dream, I’ll keep my job as a clown in this circus show!” 

That’s the way I introduce myself to the first migrants we meet on this tour, which we call Recorridos por la Hospitalidad. We’re at La 72 Hogar Refugio Para Personas Migrantes, in Tenosique, Mexico. After I introduce myself, I ask them, “What’s your dream?” They tell me they want to work in the U.S. They traveled from Honduras, from their hometown. I ask if they’re inseparable friends, and they tell me they are. I ask if I can be their friend, and they agree that I can. 

The tour runs from October 17 to November 3, 2018. It’s organized by the Migratory Affairs Program (PRAMI) of the Iberoamericana University, as part of the World Social Forum of Migration Activities. It’s a collaboration among PRAMI, Circología, Clowns Without Borders USA, Llaven nü—riendo juntos, and Palhaços sem Fronteiras Brasil.

At the start of the tour, the clowns attend information sessions about the context of recent migration. context. Experts share the following: There are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world, and 25.4 million refugees (UNHCR 2018). The migration corridor between Mexico and the United States is one of the most dangerous and busiest migratory corridors in the world. It’s used by 450,000 migrants per year. In Mexico, 70,000 migrants disappear every year—and most of them come from Central America. The reasons for Central American migration have changed a lot in the past ten years, but the number of migrants is growing due to increasing threats of violence. Mexico and the United States have what’s called “co-responsibility,” or a shared responsibility in creating and extending this humanitarian crisis. 

The clowns in our show include Aline Moreno from Palhaços sem Fronteiras Brasil; Derrick Gilday from Clowns Without Borders USA; Pao Avilés from Mexico; and me, Darina, the founder of Llaven nü. Together we decide to make our show about migration. I propose playing a migrant bird, so I can tell how it’s very normal for things to migrate in nature. The search for a better place to live is as natural as the search for love. The unnatural parts are borders, racism and xenophobia.  

The Right to Joy 

After we laugh together in the show, I have to separate from my new Honduran friends. But as suddenly as we met the first time, I run into them again a few days later. It happens when we finish our final parade and show at Salto de Agua, a migrant house in Chiapas.

A few minutes after we finish the show at Casa Betania Santa Martha, Salto de Agua, we hear that the train is arriving and several of the migrants we just met will try to get on the train to continue north. In this region, the train decreases its speed a little bit, so people try to get on. I think, “It’s great that they carry the memory of laughing together.” We try to say goodbye, but the train is coming and everything is moving too fast. We’re able to say goodbye to the beautiful people who manage the migrant house, and they invite us to return next year in celebration of the house’s anniversary. We make our way north to visit migrant houses in the Bajio zone. 

Along the way, something happens that I’ll never forget. The train tracks pass across the highway, and the train arrives right as our truck pulls up to the crossing. BOOM! The barrier goes down, stopping cars, and our truck is right in front of the railroad crossing. I put on my red clown nose, get off the truck and yell up, “Have a safe trip! Hold on tight!” The migrants on the train, or between the cars, look at us with skepticism. I guess that they might not understand or know who we are: Assailants? People from the mafia? Migration authorities or train staff? For all they know, we’re people who will violate their human rights and endanger their life. 

But as the train decreases its velocity, they suddenly recognize us and smile. Then, the train stops and migrants jump down to ask us for water and bottles to drink out of. We recognize a friend from the LGBTQI community, who left his country because he received a death threat due to his sexuality. He’s very young. We met him during our performance in Palenque, and I saw him smile several times during the show. After the show, he gave me a hug and said we helped him forget his fear of migration and all the dangers that affect migrants. 

At the railroad crossing, he gets off the train and us clowns give him a strong hug. His lips are shaking from fear, so we try to cheer him up. He thanks us for encouraging him, and we tell him to hold tight to the train. He says that he’s gaining experience in how to get on and off the train without hurting himself. 

In a migrant house in Bajio, I meet a young man who lost his leg when he jumped off the train. He thanks me for our performance, and tells me that our he sympathizes with the migrant bird. He says, “I feel like a bird who started flying to find a place where it can be better.” He says he liked when we spoke about love, because the love of his family back home, and his own love for his country, keeps him strong and helps him continue.

Darina’s blog en español

¡Hola! Me llamo Atanasia, soy ave migrante, sueño con trabajar como Paloma de la Paz pero encontré trabajo como payasa en un espectáculo de circo que ofreceremos para ustedes. Así me presenté con los primeros migrantes que conocí en el proyecto Recorridos por la Hospitalidad, cuando llegamos a La 72 Hogar Refugio Para Personas Migrantes, en Tenosique, México. Después les pregunté que cuál era su sueño, me dijeron que trabajar en EUA. Ellos son de Honduras, me comentaron que viajaban juntos desde su poblado, les pregunté que si eran amigos inseparables y me respondieron que sí. Les pregunté si podía ser su amiga inseparable y me aceptaron.

El proyecto Recorridos por la Hospitalidad, realizado del 17 de octubre al 3 de noviembre, fue convocado por el Programa de Asuntos Migratorios (PRAMI), de la Universidad Iberoamericana; como parte de las actividades del Foro Social Mundial de las Migraciones 2018. En conjunto con el PRAMI trabajamos la organizaciones: Circología, Clowns Without Borders USA, Llaven nü -riendo juntos y Palhaços sem Fronteiras Brasil.

El proyecto Recorridos por la hospitalidad inició con ensayos y sesiones informativas en las que conocimos el contexto migrante. Especialistas en el tema de migración nos compartieron información como la siguiente: En el mundo hay 258 millones de personas migrando. Hay 26 mil refugiados (ONU, 2017). El corredor migratorio más transitado y más peligroso del mundo es el corredor México-EUA. 450 mil migrantes transitan esta ruta al año. En México desaparecen 70 mil migrantes al año. Las razones por las que las personas de Centroamérica migran han cambiado mucho en los últimos diez años, han aumentado en gran número la migración por motivo de amenazas de muerte en su país de origen. Se le denomina corresponsabilidad a la parte de responsabilidad que México y EUA tienen en la crisis humanitaria que vive Centroamérica.

Los payasos que participamos, Aline Moreno, Derrick Gilday, Pao Avilés y yo, Darina Robles (gracias por aceptarme amig@s payas@s); pensamos en un espectáculo que hablará del migrar. Yo propuse ser una ave migrante, para hablarle a los migrantes de lo natural que es en la naturaleza migrar, que la búsqueda de un lugar mejor para vivir es tan natural como la búsqueda del amor; que lo que ellos hacen de migrar es natural, que lo antinatural e inhumano son las fronteras y la xenofobia.

Mis amigos inseparables y yo tuvimos que separarnos después de que los hicimos reír con la función. Pero, inesperadamente, los reencontré días después. Sucedió cuando terminamos nuestro último pasacalles y espectáculo de la zona sur de México, en la casa migrante de Salto de Agua, Chiapas. 

A los pocos minutos de terminada la función nos avisaron que estaba llegando el tren y que varios de los migrantes para los que habíamos actuado se subirían al tren para continuar su camino al norte, ya que en ése tramo el tren bajaba un poco su velocidad. Pensé, qué bien que se lleven el recuerdo del haber reído junt@s.

Salimos corriendo a despedirlos pero el tren iba muy rápido y todo fue muy rápido, alcancé a ver a unos migrantes con los que habíamos platicado durante el pasacalles y a desearles buen camino; muchas emociones pasaban por mi corazón. Nos despedimos de las bellas personas que gestionan la casa de migrantes y nos invitaron a regresar el próximo año para festejar con ellos el aniversario del albergue. También tomamos nuestro camino hacia el norte para visitar casas migrantes de la zona Bajío de México.

En el trayecto vimos el tren de nuevo a lo largo de la carretera y sucedió algo que no olvidaré jamás, las vías del tren atravesaban la carretera por la que íbamos y justo el tren pasó ahí, la pluma se bajó para detener los carros y nuestra camioneta se detuvo enfrente, quedamos en primera fila para ver el tren pasar. Yo me puse mi nariz roja de payasa, bajé de la camioneta y les gritaba: ¡Buen camino!, ¡Agárrense fuerte! Los migrantes que estaban arriba del tren o entre los vagones nos miraron, al principio con desconfianza. Pensé que no sabían si éramos asaltantes, de la mafia, autoridades de migración, personal del tren, etc.; quienes hacen que en su camino sean violentados enormemente sus derechos humanos y que su vida esté en constante riesgo. El tren bajó su velocidad y nos pudieron reconocer, en cuanto nos reconocían nos regalaban una enorme sonrisa y nos decían adiós como buenos amigos que se despiden; sus miradas eran como la de l@s niñ@s cuando ven a los payasos y se emocionan. 

De pronto el tren se paró, no supimos por qué se detuvo, algunos migrantes bajaron y nos pidieron agua o botellas vacías. Entonces reconocimos a nuestro amigo de la comunidad LGBTTTI, que había salido de su país por amenaza a su vida, por ser gay. Lo conocimos en la función en el albergue anterior, varias veces lo vi riendo como un niño durante la presentación. Él es muy joven, me dio un abrazo después de la función y nos agradecía mucho haberlo hecho reír y haberse olvidado por un momento del miedo que le causaba tantos peligros a los que se enfrentan al migrar. Bajó del tren y los payasos le dimos un fuerte abrazo, nos tomamos una foto; él estaba nervioso, le temblaba el labio pero le dimos mucho aliento y nos dijo que gracias por darle fuerza. También le dijimos que se agarrara fuerte del tren y nos comentó que ya iba tomando experiencia de cómo subir y bajar el tren sin herirse.

En otra casa migrante del Bajío conocería a un joven migrante que perdió su pierna al saltar del tren. Me dijo: Gracias por tu presentación. Me identifiqué con el ave migrante, yo también me siento como una ave que emprende el vuelo y migra. Cuando hablaste del amor también me gustó porque es gracias al amor por mi familia que dejé, por mi país y por mi sueño que tengo fuerza para seguir adelante.

Clowns stand in the plaza

Girl from Honduras

Aline Moreno, founder of Palhaços sem Fronteiras – Brasil,  wrote poetry while collaborating with CWB – USA and Llaven nü on a tour in Mexico. The tour followed the migrant caravan, comprised mainly of Central American people fleeing violence, persecution and lack of opportunities in their home countries. These poems are translated from the Portuguese by Aline. 

To come and go

We want to feel,
We need to feel
We feel it.

The world that if (to) between good and bad.
A struggle between oppressors and the oppressed.
A mute world for many.

We are all within ourselves.
We are all within us.
We are citizens of our world.

No human being is illegal.

Power to come and go is right.
To be able to see.
To be able to live.

What sense do you want to go?

What sense do you want to go?
The meaning that makes you laugh.

A clown
In the midst of misfortune.
Yes, this can make fun.

In what sense do you want to laugh?
The meaning that makes me go.

No, there is no running.

We are of the same mass
Everything is finally entwined

Girl from Honduras

Girl from Honduras,
With your laughter in your eyes,
That on your way,
You can enjoy it.

That you may be a child,
Laugh and play
Even distrusting
At your side walk,

Girl from Honduras,
Remember when to walk
Life is beautiful too.
And yes you can migrate.

Andres performs for rows of laughing kids

PAZyaso: A Clown For Peace

Andres Aguilar joins CWB – USA in Myanmar for his third Clowns Without Borders tour. In this blog, Andres coins a new term: PAZyaso!

Andres Aguilar

Each day spent in this distant country feels like a “treasure day.” Myanmar has made me wonder how cruel humans can be, to hide explosives that a child can find in their own place of play. It has also made me realize how loving it feels to work with Mines Advisory Group toward protecting them from danger while making them laugh.

Beyond all cultural, generational, and social differences—beyond the language barrier—human spirits connect, hearts become one, peace emerges and love becomes a powerful reality. A young man, who I’ll probably never meet again and whose name I’ll never know, shares laughter with me that shakes my deepest essence. “PAZyaso” or Clown For Peace. That’s what I want to be for the rest of my life.

Ultimately, humans aren’t good nor bad. We’re just learning to make fewer mistakes. For me, that concept isn’t up for discussion. It’s how I live my life. I’m deeply in love with my volunteer work, thanks to experiences like the ones I get from Clowns Without Borders USA (currently on my third trip), Clown Me In (my first collaboration) and Risaterapia (the Mexican NGO I’ve been part of since 1999).

Andres’ blog en español

He pasado “días tesoro” en este lejano país.
Myanmar me ha hecho preguntarme qué tan crueles podemos ser los humanos como para ocultar explosivos que un niño pueda encontrarse en su propio lugar de juego y también qué tan compasivos y amorosos como para dejarlo todo e ir a protegerlos del peligro mientras los hacemos reír.

Por encima de todas las diferencias culturales, generacionales, sociales, por encima de la barrera del lenguaje, los espíritus humanos se conectan, los corazones se hacen uno, la PAZ surge y el AMOR se hace una realidad poderosa.

Este jovencito del que nunca sabré su nombre y que muy probablemente no vuelva a ver jamás, compartió carcajadas conmigo que cimbraron mi más profunda esencia.

PAZyaso. Eso quiero ser el resto de mi vida.

Al fin humanos. Sin buenos ni malos, solo aprendiendo a cometer menos errores. No lo pongo a discusión, en eso creo yo y así vivo mi vida.

Estoy profundamente enamorado de mi labor voluntaria gracias a experiencias como las que me regalan Clowns Without Borders (ahora en mi 3er viaje con ellos), Clown Me In (mi primera participación con ellos) y Risaterapia (la asociación que fundé en México hace 20 años)

The group poses with juggling clubs

Circus Magic

Montana DeBor is a circus artist and instructor based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has worked with CWB – USA at a number of benefits and at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This is her first international tour with CWB – USA. 

November 24

Tomorrow marks the 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start date of our tour in Haiti. Too often, the experience of displacement or war includes sexual or gender-based violence (SGBV). This tour focuses on reaching victims of SGBV and raising awareness about the issue. I’m so excited to perform with this team and make some circus magic happen!

The first several days of our tour in Haiti focus on creating a show discussing the global safety and rights of women. As the only American aboard this international team of artists, I enjoy hearing everyone’s differing cultural experiences regarding SGBV and feel inspired by our common goal to create change. We meet with Aksofam, a group dedicated to working with survivors of SGBV, to discuss solutions for violence in Haiti and the non-Haitians in our group learn a little about the arts community here. I’m so impressed by the acrobatic and object manipulation fortitude of the Haitian team! We have several more days to continue to creation and discussion prior to our show debut Monday. Un alayyy, allons-y, here we go!

Demain marque la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes de 2018 et la date de début de notre tournée en Haïti. Trop souvent, l’expérience de déplacement ou de guerre inclut des violences sexuelles ou sexistes. Cette visite vise à atteindre les victimes de violence sexuelle et sexiste et à sensibiliser le public à la question.

Enchanté de travailler avec cette équipe et de créer de la magie du cirque!

November 30

We strap three people and a violin to a motorcycle and weav our way through rush hour traffic to make it to the Quatre Chemins Arts Festival on time. Haiti’s creative community is filled with some extraordinary artists. I enjoy being part of the evening!

Nous avons attaché trois personnes et un violon à une moto et nous nous sommes frayés un chemin dans les embouteillages pour se rendre au Festival des Arts Quatre Chemins à l’heure. La communauté créative d’Haïti est remplie d’artistes extraordinaires. J’ai aimé faire partie de la soirée!

December 1

Music, theater, dance, acrobatics, and juggling combine to tell the story of non-violence and cooperation. After a long day of rehearsals we’re ready for today’s show!

La musique, le théâtre, la danse, les acrobaties et la jonglerie se conjuguent pour raconter l’histoire de la non-violence et de la coopération. Après une longue journée de répétitions, nous sommes prêts pour le spectacle d’aujourd’hui!

The group poses with juggling clubs

Understanding and Action

Katel Le Fustec has been the director of CSF – Canada since 2008. She leads a team comprised of James Saint Félix (Haiti), Brigitte Charpentier (Canada), and Montana Debor (USA), along with local Haitian artists. 

Katel Le Fustec

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women marks the beginning of the CSF – Canada tour to Haiti, in partnership with CWB – USA. Too often, the experience of displacement includes sexual or gender-based violence. This visit aims to reach victims of violence and to raise public awareness about the issue. Sixteen Days of Activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign aimed at ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls. The campaign also includes indigenous people, persons with disabilities, immigrants, children, youth and the elderly. I’m glad to work with the CWB team to make circus magic and address these issues! 

Part I

Today, we’re on the move. To prepare the new show, with more than 11 professional and amateur artists, we’ve used all of our collaborative tools: Exchange, listening and being together. Today we investigated space by creatively using our bodies, and did breathing exercises to prepare our minds for focus. These kinds of preparatory exercises stimulate our care for each other and free us from creative constraints. 

The local Haitian artists are from the suburbs, where violence is spreading its claws. We believe that our commitment to clowning, despite the economic situation these artists face, is an act of resistance. Today’s thought is: Create, in order to avoid indifference! 

Part II

Woman in yellow speaks and looks toward the cameraThe presence of our tour partner, Aksofam, makes today productive. Last year, CSF – Canada was incredibly grateful for the lively reception and conviction of this organization. We’re proud to join forces once again. Our reunion allows us to continue reflecting and exchanging ideas and information in a way that is very important. Despite the violence occurring in this neighborhood district, six members of the association came to our makeshift headquarters. These people assist women who have experience sexual violence. They feel bleak, but they do the work of Hercules. 

Why are women always subject to intimidation? We—the citizens, the artists, the women and children, directors of agencies—are in favor of the oppressed and we are engaged in reflection for real social change.

Together, we can unite our voices, talent and solidarity. We’re stronger together. We want to understand and act! 

Katel’s blog en français

16jours d’activisme #ContreLaViolence fondée sur le genre est une campagne internationale qui vise à mettre fin sur toute forme de #discrimination à l’égard des femmes et des filles. CETTE Campagne prend en compte aussi les autochtones, les personnes en situation de handicap, les nouvelles arrivantes et les nouveaux arrivants, les enfants, la jeunesse ainsi que les personnes âgées.

Nous sommes en marche! L’échange, l’écoute et l’être-ensemble sont des outils nécessaires à la préparation du nouveau spectacle impliquant plus de onze artistes professionnels et amateurs. Dès le début de la journée, nous avons investi l’espace par la mutation de notre corps, et de notre respiration grâce à des exercices permettant de préparer notre corps et notre esprit.

Tout cela stimule notre conscience de l’autre, nous libère des mutilations, des contraintes. Les artistes locaux sont tous issus des banlieues d’où la violence déploie ses griffes en ces jours. Nous croyons que notre engagement malgré la conjoncture est une forme de résistance et d’action. Le mot d’ordre : créer pour ne pas rester indifférent!

Tout en étant lucides et perspicaces aux thématiques de la violence faites aux femmes et des droits de la personne, nos actions artistiques que ce soit travailler sur la dramaturgie du spectacle ou l’atelier de dessin, les artistes n’écartent point l’idée première.

Notre journée a aussi été très productive par la présence de notre partenaire AKSOFAM. Malgré les violences qui surgissent dans le quartier de Martissant, six membres de l’association venant en aide aux femmes violentées sont venues nous rejoindre à notre quartier général situé à Mornes Hercule.

L’an dernier, lors de notre tournée de spectacles, notre troupe artistique avait été incroyablement reconnaissante par l’accueil vif et les convictions de cette association. Nous sommes fiers d’unir à nouveau nos forces à AKSOFAM qui œuvre avec acharnement dans ce bidonville des plus dangereux de Port-au-Prince.

Nos retrouvailles ont permis de poursuivre nos réflexions et les échanges qui nous animent vivement ces jours-ci, c’est-à-dire les 16 jours d’activisme contre la violence faites aux femmes et promouvoir les droits de la personne.

Nous sommes en marche et unissons notre voix, notre talent, notre solidarité! Ensemble, nous sommes plus forts, nous voulons comprendre et agir.

Pourquoi les femmes sont-elles toujours sujettes à l’#intimidation? Nous les citoyens, nous les artistes, nous les femmes, nous les enfants, nous les directeurs d’organismes, nous sommes en marche en faveur des opprimés et nous engageons la réflexion pour un véritable changement social.

All four clowns stand in a row

Reaffirming Our Purpose

Ricardo Bamaca served as the logistician for CWB – USA’s August emergency tour to Guatemala. His vital role included making sure the clowns arrived to their performances on time, as well as addressing other logistical issues before and during the tour. He writes about what it takes to organize a tour, plus the transition from first-response aid to other forms of humanitarian relief. 

Thank you to Sayda for translating this blog! 

Ricardo Bamaca

The Immediate Aftermath

On June 3, 2018, Volcán de Fuego (Chi’gag in Mayan) erupted. The volcano is located in the departments of Sacatepéquez, Escuintla and Chimaltenango, 44 ​​kilometers from Guatemala City. It expelled more than 30 million cubic meters of volcanic ash and dust. The village of El Rodeo and the San Miguel Los Lotes colony were devastated by the force of the eruption. According to the Guatemalan government, hundreds of people were killed and thousands more were affected. However the first-hand testimonies from survivors estimate thousands of casualties, instead of hundreds.

That fateful day, as we became aware of the devastating news, I immediately began relief work in any way I could, organizing and managing an emergency collection center for aid. People worked to secure food, basic equipment and to provide manual labor. But I also believe that help should be comprehensive and that it can provide more than just the basics. As a former employee of Clowns Without Borders Spain (PsF), I placed an emergency call asking for a CWB delegation to come to provide humanitarian aid and emotional relief.

Carles Requena, the coordinator of PsF, was unable to organize a tour from Catalonia to Guatemala at the time, so he put out an international call. CWB – USA and CSF Canada responded! That’s how Naomi Shafer, Executive Director of CWB – USA, and I had our first conversations. We overcame the language barrier (Naomi speaks English, French, and Russian, and I speak Spanish) thanks to Google Translate, my indispensable ally. Once CWB – USA board member Sayda Trujillo came on as translator, tour leader and performer, the language barrier totally disappeared and we confirmed that CWB would come.


While we were prepared for CWB’s arrival to Guatemala, the rescue and relocation operations continued. There was a lot of secrecy, and while it seems silly, it’s important to remember that the World Cup was approaching and I worried that the rescue operations might become paralyzed. As I worked to organize the logistics of the tour in Guatemala, CWB put together a team. I requested that the clowns speak Spanish as the primary language of communication for this tour, so that they could better interact with the communities before and after performances. I have noticed, during previous CWB tours, it’s important to witness and actively listen to the communities, as they tell you about their personal and collective tragedy, and their relationships to the institutions around them.

Meanwhile, we ran up against the government’s wall of suspicion and contention. People, associations, NGOs, and other foundations were forced to work in a dispersed way, making it difficult to access the populations in need. In order to reach the affected people in shelters, the CWB tour needed allies. TEAVIDE, Euskadi NGO, UNICEF Guatemala, Human Rights Ombudsman of Guatemala, members of the psychology department within the Ministry of Health in Escuintla and many others helped the clowns get where they needed to go.

Stef holds a green balloon in the air


Making the Show

Suddenly, I received news from the CWB office that we had a green light, a team of clowns and start-date. And that’s how a group of clowns arrived in Guatemala with a desire to give everything.  Lucho (Colombia), Noemí (Canada), Sayda (USA) and Stef (France), formed a spectacular team, full of energy, talent, social conscience and a desire to make people laugh. More than that, they worked to make everyone look good throughout the whole show. Their energy was so high, from the moment they started performing, and while they cooked up a show, I cooked dinner. They worked like that from the night they landed to the night of the first show, making everything integrated and professional.

Our premiere was great, but we had a much smaller crowd than anticipated. We enjoyed a meal with the audience and engaged in active listening, offering a space of expression for the people who shared with us what little they had. It was very gratifying to spend time with them outside the show itself, as we lived intensely together. That first show was different than what we expected, in terms of visibility, but far exceeded our expectations in terms of human interaction. The rest of our performances were marked by a drive to continue sharing and delivering.

On Tour

Each day, we spent some quiet time alone, asking ourselves how we were and what we felt. This ritual allowed us to respect our partners and companions, make suggestions or complaints, give thanks or state needs. It helped strengthen our ties as a team and prepare us for the long task of the tour. Even as the days and fatigue accumulated, the desire to bring laughs, smiles, and encouragement prevailed.

Everywhere we went was a surprise, leading us to adapt to the situation. It was important to remember that we weren’t doing this to be in good standing with the Guatemalan government, with other NGOs, or even with ourselves—it was for the affected people. We can say, with satisfaction, that we gave 12 presentations in eight shelters and three schools. We gave two workshops for psychosocial personnel at Escuintla, and another for a human rights office that had been supporting survivors since the eruption. We also had a workshop with Guatemalan clowns, some former employees of PsF, and others who were interested in the “philosophy” of CWB’s work. After this experience, I can reaffirm that Clowns Without Borders is necessary to mitigate a bit of the pain of people in vulnerable situations.

Ricardo’s blog en español

El día 3 de junio de 2018, el volcán de fuego, situado en los departamentos de Sacatepéquez, Escuintla y Chimaltenango a 44 kilómetros de la ciudad de Guatemala, hizo erupción, expulsando más de 30 millones de metros cúbicos de restos volcánicos, siendo las personas más afectadas la que vivían, en las aldeas, El Rodeo y la colonia San Miguel Los Lotes, que fueron arrasadas por la fuerza de la erupción.  Según el Gobierno de Guatemala, fueron cientos los muertos y miles de afectados, datos que no concuerdan con el testimonio de los pobladores que aseguran que las personas muertas superan con creces las cifras oficiales llegando a miles…

Ese fatídico día, inmediatamente, que se empezaron a conocer las noticias, empecé a realizar labores de ayuda en lo que se pudiera, organizando y gestionando un centro de acopio emergente de ayuda humanitaria en lugares culturales, donde la población llevaba víveres, enseres básicos y mano ayuda,  pero como yo creo que la ayuda debe de ser integral y no solo brindar lo más básico (que también) y como antiguo colaborador de Payasos sin Fronteras de Barcelona, hice un llamado de emergencia, para que pudiera conformarse una delegación, y venir al país, para brindar ayuda humanitaria desde las artes.

Ante la imposibilidad de que pudieran, en ese momento venir al país desde Cataluña, Carles Requena, coordinador de PsF, hizo un llamado internacional, respondiendo Clowns Without Borders USA y Canadá a ese llamado de emergencia.

Es así como Naomi Shafer, coordinadora de CWB y yo tuvimos nuestras primeras conversaciones, salvando la barrera del idioma (ella habla inglés y yo solo español), Santo google y su traductor fue mi aliado indispensable, para escribirnos, por que de hablar, “na de na” luego se incorporó Sayda Trujillo, que hizo de traductora, jefa de misión y payasa, entonces la barrera del idioma (que nunca lo fue realmente) desapareció y concretamos que si ó si, CWB respondería al llamado y vendrían a dar risas y alegrías.

Mientras fraguábamos la llegada de CWB a Guatemala, seguían las labores de rescate y reubicación de las personas damnificadas, todo esto rodeado de hermetismo por parte de las autoridades y aunque parezca una tontería, se acercaba el mundial de fútbol, lo que era un peligro por la paralización de acciones…  mientras yo estaba de avanzada en otras cuestiones para que toda la maquinaria de la risa, el humor la humanidad, se pudiera recibir, en CWB, estaba en plena conformación del equipo, que tenía una única petición y es que todos o por lo menos la mayoría de los payaos payasas, “hablara español”, para poder convivir con las personas, antes y después del show, la experiencia con otros equipos de Payasos sin Fronteras, en misiones de emergencia, me enseño, que los PsF, se roban el corazón y se hacen cómplices, por antonomasia, de todas aquellas que ven su intervención y que a veces somos, las personas externas, las que podemos realizar una escucha activa, de lo que están viviendo, tanto en su tragedia personal y comunitaria, como su relación con las instituciones que están a su alrededor. 

Entre tanto, para salvar la barrera de recelo por parte del muro de contención del Gobierno y uno de sus grandes logros: que las personas, asociaciones, ONG y otras fundaciones, trabajen de manera dispersa, haciendo difícil el acceso a la población necesitada (hay hacinamiento, toques de queda, malos servicios, poca información…). Y para poder llegar a las personas afectadas en los albergues, tuvimos que tener varios aliados, entre ellos TEAVIDE, Coordinadora de ONGS de Euskadi, UNICEF Guatemala, Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala, el Clúster de salud mental, donde estaban el departamento de Psicología del Ministerio de Salud en Escuintla, entre otros, muchos amigos y amigas que nos ofrecieron su contactos o ayuda en lo que se pudiera, para que CWB, llegara a donde eran necesarios…

De repente, recibo la comunicación de la oficina de CWB, de que hay  fumata blanca “habemus equipo de payasos y payasas” y también teníamos fechas de expedición “la segunda quincena de Agosto”… Es así, como se llega el día D,  arriban al país, un grupo de payasos y payasas, con todas las ganas de darlo todo: Lucho (Colombia), Noemí (Canadá), Sayda (USA) y Steff (Francia), formando un equipo, espectacular, lleno de energía, talento, conciencia social y muchas ganas de hacer reír y hacerla pasar bien a todos y todas, que desde el minuto cero, empezaron a montar el espectáculo y no pararon, hasta lograrlo, mientras ellos cocinaban su show, yo cocinaba la cena y hacia las ultimas, por decir ultimas llamadas, para que todos estuviera al punto, vamos todo integrado, profesionale”.

Ya con show bajo el brazo, comenzamos nuestra aventura y llegamos a nuestro primer albergue, donde según las estadísticas había una cantidad enorme de personas y en la realidad había menos de la mitad de las personas que se nos dijo, pero el espectáculo de estreno, fue genial, en petit comité y luego conviviendo con ellos a la hora de la comida, donde la labor de escucha, estuvo presente, para ofrecer un espacio de expresión a las personas que nos estaban compartiendo lo que casi no tenían, fue muy gratificante pasar con ellos ese tiempo, fuera del propio espectáculo, viviendo intensamente juntos, nuestros mundos… y el primer espectáculo, en cuestión de público, no de calidad humana, no fue para nada lo que nos precedió, las demás estuvieron marcadas, de superación, entrega, búsqueda de la perfección y de llegar mas dentro de cada una de las personas que nos miraba y nos acompañaba. 

Todos los días, teníamos el ritual, cuando llegaba los pocos momentos de quietud y de estar mas con nosotros mismo, de preguntarnos como estábamos, que sentíamos,  era un momento de expresión personal, de respeto por el compañero o compañero, de hacer sugerencias, quejas, agradecimientos y demás, que nos ayudo a fortalecer nuestros lazos como equipo y de estar preparados para la larga tarea, que con los días, se fue acumulando el cansancio, pero no las ganas de llevar risas y sonrisas y un poco de aliciente. 

A cada lugar que íbamos, era una sorpresa, y eso también nos llevó a nosotros como CWB, a adaptarnos a la situación, sobre todo que no queríamos quedar bien con las organizaciones o el Estado, ni siquiera con nosotros mismo, sino con las personas afectadas, con los hombres y mujeres, niños y niñas que habían vivido la tragedia y eso lo logramos, en 14 días intensos, donde podemos decir con satisfacción que nuestro balance es positivo,  hicimos 12 presentaciones en 8 albergues, dos escuelas temporales, 1 escuela de niños del basurero municipal, dos talleres para personal psicosocial del clúster de salud mental de Escuintla y otro para la procuraduría de derechos humanos donde se trabajo con el personal que estuvo con los damnificados desde el minuto 1, también se hizo un taller con payasos guatemaltecos, algunos, antiguos colaboradores de PsF  de España, cuando se tuvo proyectos de larga duración en el país y otros con ganas de conocer nuestra “filosofía” de trabajo.
Con todo esto y más, me reafirmo que  los Payasos sin Fronteras, son necesarios, para mitigar un poco el dolor de las personas en situación de vulnerabilidad.

Kids sit behind the line watching a performance

Cheering On the Clown Car

CWB – USA artist Brendon Gawel writes about how love flows in both directions, and can look like clowns performing for kids, and kids cheering on a car full of clowns. 

Today we perform in a refugee camp near the Palestinian border. When we arrive, there are a few children in the streets and we ask them for directions to the performance spot. The kids happily show us the way by running alongside the car. After the show, we keep playing—it’s all impromptu games, dancing, and general silliness. Eventually we have to go, but even as we pack up, the kids still want to play. They run next to us while we slowly drive down the narrow road to the camp exit, laughing, making silly faces, and saying goodbye by waving and imitating the show. It’s an incredible send-off.

It’s hard to explain the work we do. People who are not experiencing crisis can understand the immediate need for food, shelter and medicine. But in the U.S., we don’t put much value in art, joy, and play…those aren’t typical “American” values, even though they contribute to our emotional wellbeing. No doubt, our physical wellbeing must be cared for first. But then what? That’s where clowns can come in.

Our partner organization, Clown Me In, has a motto: “Send me where love is needed.” And that’s what clowns are able to do. We can have an effect on an emotional level, and share emotional wellbeing with our audience. If we jump up and down, sing, dance, and play, maybe other people will feel ready to do the same. Just as often, that love flows back at us, and it looks like a group of kids who’re ready to cheer on a car full of clowns.