Four Cork-based clowns are to fly out to Kosovo next week to put a smile on the faces of ethnic minorities who are still struggling to adjust to life after recent wars and bombings.
Clowns Without Borders Ireland is sending the quartet for a specifically devised show which will tour isolated communities of this still very economically deprived and segregated state.
The artists are donating their time for free to live up to the aims of ‘no child without a smile’ and ‘letting children be children’.
Arran Towers of Cork Circus is leading the group and has experienced firsthand the powerful effect of such tours, having previously entertained children in Somalia and Rwanda.
“Sending clowns and a show to war-torn areas or regions suffering from natural disaster can be a hard thing to justify to people,” says Arran.
“All I can say is that having witnessed audiences in refugee camps laughing, smiling, and clapping along, the benefits become obvious and even the most over stretched and critical administrator or manager has been won over and demanded a return visit.”
Clowns Without Borders Ireland tries to organise two such tours a year, with the next one to Rwanda and then Jordan, or possibly Kenya.
The charity also brings shows to refugees in Ireland visiting accommodation centres around the country.
The tour to Kosovo, which was ravaged by war from February 1998 to June 1999, leaves on November 18 and the four will stay there until December 2.
It follows on from continual visits since the late 1990s by Spain’s Clowns Without Borders artists.
They have entertained minorities in the country such as Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians, as well as refugees and internally displaced peoples.
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