Clowns without Borders Ireland returned to Greece in 2018.
Four Irish performers (Kim Mc Cafferty, Rosie O’Regan, James Bray and Samuel Meyler) performed 20 shows for roughly 1,800 children in different refugee camps around the island of Lesbos and Athens.
More then one million people have landed on Lesbos since 2015 – most of these refugees pass through the infamous Moria Refugee Camp, considered by many aid organisations as Europe’s worse refugee facility. Unlike most camps, Moria has not grown in size as its numbers rapidily increased. Although the camp was built to hold roughly 2,000 people, the population at time of writing is roughly 9,000. In many places raw sewage runs openly through the camp and it is estimated that there is one toilet per 80-100 refugees.
We performed in Safe Zone A and B of the Moria Camp, a protected part of the sprawling refugee camp with extra security measures to protect the unaccompanied minors who are staying there. It was such a strange feeling to perform behind so much barbed wire and fences, especially to children who have already experienced such trauma and now find themselves inside what ultimately is a prison-like environment. Nonetheless, the sweet affection of the teenagers (mostly unaccompanied minors from Syria and Afghanistan) and the gentle hugs of the children after each show convince us that our work is important.
In Athens we returned to perform at the Ritsona Refugee Camp, a camp where we had given a series of workshops in 2017. We also brought our show to various other refugee camps and facilities in and around Athens (Malakasa, Schisto, Elefsina, Eleonas, Skaramagas, CitiPlaza). One of the camps we performed, Elenoas, had been visited by our Irish president Micheal D. Higgins and his wife Sabina earlier in the year.
This tour was in collaboration with First Fortnight, an Irish charity that challenges mental health prejudice through art and cultural action. The tour itself was kindly supported by Culture Ireland and the generosity of public donations. We’d also like to thank the Irish Embassy in Greece for their kind support throughout.