Emergency Smile mission in Ukraine
During our four week mission in Ukraine we worked with people impacted by the war in tuberculosis centres, orphanages and with families from near the conflict zone. This mission was held in collaboration with the Red Cross Ukraine and SOS Children’s Village. Our artists were able to perform several shows, circus smile for children as well as humour relief workshops for humanitarian aid workers.
The peculiarity of the mission in Ukraine is that our team was in constant contact with people who have experienced war in some level and who are still living very closed to the in a conflict zone. Every individual has different stories but the traces of the conflict can be seen everywhere and in everyone, from the restaurant owner to the taxi driver.
Even though this was sometimes tough, our team rose to the challenge and did their best to connect with every person they met, no matter whether they were wearing their clown costume or not.
Tuberculosis (TBC) Centre in Sieverodonetsk, Lugansk
Kids usually stay there between three to six months after they’ve recovered from the disease, but since some of the children come from difficult situations where parents do not have the means to care for them they stay for longer periods of time. In general, the children in the centre are between four to ten years old, although there were some older ones.
On the first day, the clowns performed the show and played with the children with the props that they had used in the performance. After that, every morning the kids were already waiting for the clowns and were excited to enjoy the games with them and to learn new tricks. They wanted to play with scarfs, the diablo, fire sticks and with the ribbons.
A boy, of around 14 years old, was waiting for the clowns among the little ones and he had a plastic gun in his hand. He looked like “the boss” of the group and the clowns were wondering how he would react to the show. When the performance started, this young boy transformed into a small kid.he slowly lost interest in the gun and He was very amused by the play, by the story; he got as involved in the games as everyone else.
The next day, he welcomed the team as if they were friends. It was so touching to see his joy and the change of behaviour. . A little miracle had happened to him. He tried out all props and showed them his talents. He helped the small ones also to succeed and he supported them when all of a sudden a little boy started crying.
At the end of the day, while the team was leaving, he was drawing a huge heart into the air for the team and sending them hugs from the distance.
Red Cross centre in Lysychansk
Our team held a Circus Smile workshop in the Red Cross centre. At first, Iit was a complex mission situation for the clowns because most of the children were super active and had difficulties focusing on one thing. They enjoyed the games, gags and tricks, but they also got tired very fast. The clowns were not sure how the final show performance would look like with so many kids enjoying the playful rehearsals and joking with the clowns, but having difficulties focusing on learning the tricks, the juggling and the acrobatic games.
On the day of the show, they had bad rainy weather so they started preparing for plan “B” in case the rain would not stop, but still hoped for the best. Half an hour before the show, while they were doing the last rehearsals, the clowns gave a scarf to every participant and suddenly the rain stopped. A group of cute artists, acrobats and jugglers came on the stage. The audience was melting. The children were so concentrated; the clowns gave them so much strength and guided their show smoothly and gently, letting the children enjoy the success. All stage fright had disappeared.
A cute magician got the audience captivated. She made a magic trick and involved the audience asking everyone to give her a magic blow. She was amazing. The dancing group with the ribbon looked like a professional group with the help of Dr.Straciatella and with the soft music of DrFenomena. The Acrobats made unbelievable positions with the support of Dr. Marija and Dr. Jan. Žiži and Hrdlicka.
At the end of the show, every little artist got a certificate with a red nose, as a recognition of their hard work. They were so proud. The clowns made a big circle with the parachute and let it fly in the air – it was such a releasing moment! The parents and siblings applauded the kids effusively. At the end, they all shared a small pic-nick. It was a magical day for everyone.
Working near the conflict zone
In cooperation with SOS Children's Villages Ukraine the team visited children and their families in Stanytsia Luhanska, a town that is only a few kilometres away fromat the border of the conflict zone.
The signs of war are still everywhere and it was something special to have a group of clowns there – many children were wearing their special occasions clothes.
Around 65 children came to watch the show in a big theatre hall. For many of them it was the first time that they saw clowns and a circus programme. Very fast laughter filled the hall.
After the show, some children had to leave as the bus was waiting for them so the team continued to work with around 35 children and their families with the parachute, juggling balls, plates and music.
That park, in the middle of a town impacted by war, turned into a magical place full of joy!
Humour Relief Workshops
During this mission, the team had the opportunity to host several humour workshops for humanitarian aid workers. Twenty three very talented staff members from SOS Children's Villages took part in a Humour workshop with our team.
It was a very joyful workshop and at the same time, a great team bonding event for them.
Some participants drove over 2 hrs from Stanitsja to be part of the workshop and went back to their offices on the same day, because they understooand the importance of our work.
“The RED NOSES team won my heart from the first minute. They bring happiness and a bunch of positive emotions, for those who need it. This is important and necessary” – SOS children’s Villages staff member in Ukraine.
In addition, the team had a humour workshop with the staff of Red Cross in Sieverodonetsk. The team created a nice atmosphere in spite of the really hot weather. The participants told us that it was nice to reconnect with childhood emotions for a couple of hours, release stress and shift their focus onto something playful.
We see our work in the humanitarian setting as a link in a chain. Only by connecting all the links we can provide the needed support to people in crisis situations. This is why we invest in building meaningful collaborations with local partners, such as International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and SOS Children's village Ukraine.