Members of Clowns Without Borders (CWB) Ireland Galway Branch toured refugee camps in Lebanon performing for Syrian refugees who recently escaped the atrocities in Syria.
The Irish ensemble of professional theatre artists and clowns are Helen Gregg (team leader), Daniel Guinnane and Niamh McGrath accompanied by live music from Orla de Bhaldraithe. These formidable and generous artists departed on the 25th of Feburary and returned on the 15th of March. They performed ‘The Luggageers’ a specially designed show with an original score.
Many of these children and their carers have the trauma of witnessing brutal events and images in real life. CWB Ireland offer emotional and psychosocial relief through laughter and play. CWB create a safe and open environment for communities in crisis to integrate and celebrate together.
Our show was performed for Palestinian and Syrian children living in refugee camps across Lebanon. Again and again, we were thanked profusely by teachers and community organisers who told us that the children really enjoyed and engaged with our performances and that it was wonderful to see them having fun.
Our partners on the ground are Al’jana (www.aljana.org), a cultural organisation for children in Lebanon. They are kindly aiding CWB Ireland with the logistics for the tour as the extensive refugee population in the country are scattered throughout the region in refugee camps and vastly among communities.
This is CWB Irelands second tour of Lebanon, a follow up to our recent 2016 tour of the country also in collaboration with Al’jana.
Hicham Kayed from Al’jana wrote:
“The performances had a strong impact on the children, often deprived of education and cultural or social activities. The children’s young faces invariably would light up as they rejoiced in sharing in the tricks the clowns performed and the pranks they played on each other.”
Lebanese Palestinian, Syrian Palestinian and Syrian children, all residents of refugee camps across Lebanon. Also in attendance were teachers, community organisers, parents, NGO staff members.
A total of 4356 children.
The critical response we seek is the reaction of the children for whom we perform. Laughter, smiles, hugs and kisses were our reviews.
More specifically, the children told us that our shows made them feel ‘excited’ and happy’. Omar, aged 9, said the show gave him joy. And Marie Anne, 11, said it made her feel beautiful. They wanted to know if we would be returning the next day, and if not tomorrow, then when.
We will be returning again in April 2018!