South Sudan: Clowning around with children

by Terre des hommes | Terre des hommes (Tdh) - Switzerland
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 14:24 GMT

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Life for those people who have been displaced by conflict in South Sudan is extremely hard. They are living in temporary tents and shelters during a rainy season which brings mud and disease. They have very little access to health care, sanitation and education. This is especially felt by the children who have been forced to leave their homes and schools and many of whom have lost family members and witnessed violent conflict.

Terre des hommes (Tdh) is providing Child Friendly spaces for these children, where they can come every day and feel safe, play with their friends, receive some classes. There, children also receive support and counseling to help them have a happy childhood as possible in these circumstances.

To help achieving this, Tdh formed a partnership with Clowns Without Borders Sweden, where two incredible artists spent two weeks with Tdh in Juba, capital of South Sudan. They put on performances at four sites for children and community members, where screams of laughter were ringing out. It is hard to describe how wonderful and rare this sound is in the places they are living. They also visited a children’s prison and a clinic where they performed for the children there.

For Camilla Rudd and Karin Svensson, the performers who worked on this programme, there is an important message behind the smiles they bring. “Our hope is that children in our audiences, staff members, parents, prisoners, guards and doctors were able to forget for a while and felt a connection through spontaneous and sudden laugher which can bridge age, ethnicity, ability and gender. It aims at nurturing the humanity and understanding that we are all the same and together in sharing a laugh."

In addition to the performances, they led a number of workshops for some of the older children who live in the camps, to teach them some of the skills of juggling, acrobatics and theatre. For children who have been out of school and lost confidence in themselves, this was an opportunity to come together and learn something new. Amani, 14, told us that she really enjoyed the activities and the concentration needed as it allowed her mind to stop thinking about her problems. Tdh Programme Coordinator Joy Cheung reports that “it was a really great opportunity for the girls to really shine, often outperforming the boys in how quickly they could learn new skills and tricks. It was so nice to see the girls being recognized and applauded in this way.”

These workshops all finished with a grand final performance in front of their peers and community where they showed everything they had learned and received lots of cheers and rounds of applause. For Kur, 16, this was a fantastic occasion and he hopes that in the future, the participants will use the tricks to entertain people and volunteer to train other children as well.

Every year, Terre des hommes offers sustainable solutions and a better future for over two million children and their relatives. Learn more about our projects in South Sudan.