Clowns Without Borders - a global non-profit organisation - is preparing for their two week mission in Lebanon to paint smiles on the most vulnerable Syrian refugees. Conor Sheils speaks exclusively to Lebanese clown, Sabine Choucair, to learn more.
The war in Syria is no laughing matter - unless you're one of these guys. Clowns without Borders (CWB) is a non-profit organisation with just ONE mission in life: sharing laughter and play with children in crisis zones. The group has spent 19 years performing circus tricks and delivering smiles to kids in some of the harshest environments on the planet including remote Palestinian villages and sub-saharan Africa. And now the organisation is planning to bring some rare moments of joy to Syrian children housed in Lebanese refugee camps.
Sabine Choucair, a Lebanese clown is gearing up to lead the trip to her home country in an effort to spread 'the politics of laughter' to displaced children. Speaking about CWB she told CairoScene: "We send professional artists and performers to work on our projects, they are all volunteers, no one receives salary for the shows they perform. This allows us to keep expenses low and it also brings bold hearted performers to our work. There are no religious or political messages in our shows…our only politics are the politics of play and laughter!"
Choucair first became involved with the group after witnessing their work in Lebanon two years ago. "I am a clown myself, so I knew CWB and previously had a great encounter with CWB Spain during their tour in Lebanon. I've always wanted to join them because I truly believe in their mission. whether it is with Syrian refugees or any other zone of crisis."
Speaking about her time with the group, Choucair becomes animated as she describes the daily rewards of being a CWB clown. "I love joining other professional artists and big hearterd performers and spreading laughter among kids living in crisis. I think it's the most wonderful, inspiring and heartwarming thing I do in my life. It really sums up humanity at its best."
"The look on the kids' faces during and after the show, the amazement and happiness with big open eyes and wide open mouths, stays with me all the time Despite everything that has happened, kids always find a way to be playful and funny and to enjoy life," Choucair beams, as she describes some of her fondest memories while working with CWB. "I remember one time in India we were doing the butoh exercise with kids and asked a boy to show us an angry face. He smiled to us and moved his head the Indian way and said 'yes, yes angry'. We burst into laughter, it was extremely funny and sweet to us how he expressed his anger with such a happiness,
And now Choucair and her clown colleagues a set to put her skills on display on her home turf of Lebanon. "The preparation has been super fun, the joy of meeting kids and other clowns is indescribable and I'm looking forward to this tour where we will get to perform to hundreds of Syrian refugees in the Bekaa- Beirut and in the North of Lebanon."
Describing the mission itself, Choucair tells us: "We are taking a team of 4 artists, David Clay from the USA, Claudio Martinez from Chile, Luz Gaxiola from Mexico and myself Sabine Choucair from Lebanon, and we will partner with local artists and the organisation called Layan. We start the tour on the 2nd of June and end it on the 13th. We're also taking our work to Haiti in November and Palestine in the Autumn."
"We have a really busy year ahead but personally I can't wait," says Choucair before she heads back to rehearsals.
For more information about Clowns without Borders and their work visit www.clownswithoutborders.org