A group of volunteers in Galway have just returned from war-torn Lebanon after touring the country in a bid to help refugee kids rediscover their childhood.
Clowns Without Borders Ireland, which has one of its three regional branches in Galway, help bring laughter to children in areas of crisis around the world.
Helen Gregg, one of four clowns who returned to Galway last weekend from Lebanon, explains the work the organisation does. “We are primarily clowns and our primary purpose is to make people laugh and have fun.
“Our group is made up of circus performers, clowns, theatre and street performers, actors and musicians and we offer our skills, humour and time on a voluntary basis to perform shows around the world,” she added.
The group has recently returned from a three-week tour of Lebanon where they performed two 45-minute shows every day.
“We got a really lovely response from the children. In one camp I asked a little girl, through our translator, how the show made her feel and she said it made her feel like she wanted to be big so she could do what we were doing which was a really lovely response.”
Ms Gregg believes the work Clowns Without Borders does has a positive impact on the young children.
“The whole purpose of Clowns Without Borders is the idea that children need to be children and a lot of these children are children that have been through traumatic experiences the likes of which I can’t even imagine.
“They have seen terrible things and we can’t even begin to imagine what they’ve been through,” she said.
Depending on the size of the refugee camps, the audience can range from 100 to 600 people. The Galway group also performed to one audience made up entirely of Syrian orphans, whose parents had been killed in the conflict.
“They’re very young and to give them the opportunity to laugh and have fun and remind them that being silly and fun and laughter and love is a possibility in life is a really special feeling.”
Clowns Without Borders will also make a trip to Iraq and Jordan later in the year.