Human Rights 20 January 2016 16 1151
In 2015, more than 800 thousand people fled their homes in the Middle East and Africa, and made their way to Lesbos in Greece. Crossing the Mediterranean in overcrowded inflatable dinghies is a perilous voyage that has killed thousands. In an effort to prevent even more deaths, volunteers meet refugees on the shores to provide first aid. Landing successfully though is just the beginning of the refugees’ long journey to safety, they still face many obstacles; finding shelter, being issued proper papers and travelling on to the country where they want to claim asylum.
To offer moral support during the ordeal and to take their minds off all the hardship, if only for a while, “Clowns without Borders”, have come to the island of Lesbos. Volunteers from this organisation literally clown around, their sole objective, to put smiles on the faces of children and adults alike. They believe that laughter has powerful healing properties for both mind and soul so they’re determined to be there when people go through traumatic events. “Clowns without Borders” has been to natural disaster sites and worked with people fleeing conflict and that determination is undiminished in the face of the current migrant crisis. Again, they are there, hoping to make a difference for people going through an unbelievably challenging time.
They are not afraid to incorporate hard topics in their performances, as they seek to transform the tragedy of traumatic experience into comedy. They see the ability to laugh at your own misfortune and fear as therapy to help migrants overcome their hardship. Despite being deeply moved by many of the stories they encounter, they have to keep smiling because the show must go on for the people they came to help.