Abu Georges, West Bank
5 July 2012
The music began and the children of Abu Georges cheered with delight, smiles spreading across their faces. Some could not contain their excitement and they shuffled closer, eager to be near the clowns who stood before them.
Spanish humanitarian organisation Clowns Without Borders (Payasos Sin Fronteras) believes in the importance of laughter, sending professional clowns across the globe to perform for children affected by conflict. During the month of June, UNRWA welcomed three visiting performers from Clowns Without Borders, helping them to tour UNRWA schools and Bedouin communities across the West Bank.
Prepared with suitcases full of balloons, red noses, and musical instruments, Maika, Michael and Luis-Ignacho began their performance at the entrance to the narrow, dusty road that leads to the Bedouin community of Abu Georges. The children rushed out to greet them, and watched as they skipped, leapt, and danced up the road. The next hour was filled with juggling, acrobatics and magic as parents and older siblings stood in the background, unable to miss out on the fun.
During their visit, the clowns were on a gruelling schedule. They performed twice a day to crowds that reached the hundreds. Over two weeks, they held over 20 shows, inflated dozens of balloons, delivered hundreds of jokes, and dropped a few juggling balls in between. Most importantly, they brought laughter to over 2,000 Palestine refugee children.
Performer Luis-Ignacho is passionate about the work that Clowns Without Borders does: “These kinds of children need entertainment and support. You can go a week, or a month, without eating. You cannot go without laughter. Children need laughter.”
As the children of Abu Georges rushed to say goodbye, it was clear that the clowns were a hit. “It was beautiful”, said 14 year old Jawalha. “I liked the magic most. It made me happy inside.”
As the clowns left to reach their next performance on time, children crowded around to wave goodbye. One small boy stayed behind, holding three plastic bottles in his hand. Throwing one of them into the air, he was determined to continue what the clowns had started.