clowns performing on lesvos

Where We Belong

By Jemima Evans

CWB USA Guest Blogger

 

My name is Jemima Evans, and I am a British citizen. Just a few months back, family, friends and myself were told to make a decision about belonging. In short, where did we belong, inside or outside the European border? We were to decide on Thursday 23rd June 2016.

Brexit, as it is commonly known, is the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw and end its membership in the European Union. The U.K. held a referendum, and by a narrow decision, the nation decided to leave. What happened in Britain is common knowledge, but the short and long-term impacts are just beginning to unfold.

Just a few weeks before the referendum, I made my way to a special exhibit. Call me by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond, features interactive art that tells the stories of those who have fled and arrived in Calais, France. It encourages viewers to imagine the terrifying and sometimes deadly experiences of those who have been forced into migration.

Hundreds of abandoned lifejackets line the fence outside Moria Refugee Camp, Lesvos, Greece.
Hundreds of abandoned lifejackets line the fence outside Moria Refugee Camp, Lesvos, Greece.

As you walk, you will find yourself in a room filled with life jackets; life jackets that used to belong to people. People who didn’t make it across the border to safety. As well as individuals that may not have lost their life, but perhaps their sense of belonging, and because of horrible conflict, are now labeled, “refugees.”

The exhibition also featured the Good Chance Calais theatre dome, which was built by Good Chance Theatre charity, on the south bank of the Calais Encampment. The dome offered created a space for refugees to sing, dance, play music, talk and to dream of the possibility of a better life. Sadly, on March 20, 2016, the dome was dismantled as the camp was cleared” (Call me by my name, exhibition).

The Good Chance Theatre said this about the loss of the theatre dome and temporary homes of those living around it:

“All of us have stood together in the belief that everyone deserves to live with dignity, that theatre and art can provide that dignity, and that everyone deserves a good chance.”

Clowns get the audience to help during the show in Lesvos, Greece.
Clowns get the audience to help during the show at a refugee camp.

In moments of the unknown, if we all stand together, then we might be able to find hope. As it stands, Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Just like the Good Chance Theatre, that does not mean we can’t keep our conversations going. It does not mean our borders have been bolted shut; it is simply a new time, a new chance.

At Clowns Without Borders that is what we aim to do. We want to keep having conversations. We find that through comedy, communication, and above all, laughter, we can give people a chance to belong.

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