INDIA: Clowns Provide Laughter, Hope to Street Children at Salesian Youth Center
(MissionNewswire) The German branch of the international nonprofit Clowns Without Borders traveled to India for the first time this month, selecting a Salesian youth center as the perfect place to conduct their program.
Clowns Without Borders spreads happiness where it is most needed. The organization brings smiles and laughter to children and adults in need – especially the underprivileged. It’s mission is to help relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency. The goal is to strengthen the resilience of those facing extreme poverty and overwhelming situations.
The charity works with relief organizations that address the psycho-social needs of those who suffer from traumatic situations. On March 4, 2012, a group of seven volunteer clowns conducted a workshop at Shelter Don Bosco – a Salesian program for male street children in Mumbai.
“Street children are among the poorest people in India. Their lives are often marked by violence, abuse and starvation,” says Herbert Thomas, tour manager.
“The children at the Salesian center all seemed very happy and content,” he continues. “The shelter for homeless boys is such a wonderful place and takes excellent care of children who don’t have parents or who have been abandoned.”
During the workshop, the boys – who were captivated by the clowns – had the opportunity to learn clown skills themselves. These entertaining art forms included juggling, plate spinning, sound effects, and other tricks of the clown trade.
“We were welcomed very warmheartedly,” says Thomas. “The children were very curious and talented and participated with an incredible amount of joy and passion.”
Later in the afternoon, Clowns Without Borders brought the joy of laughter to the street children and people from neighboring slums. The hour-long performance at Shelter Don Bosco showcased their juggling, miming, music, clowning, singing, magic tricks and more.
“It was our goal to give them a memorable day filled with joy and excitement. We want them to know that they are not forgotten and people care about them,” says Thomas. “The effects on children are often amazing and long-lasting.”
Clowns Without Borders will likely return to India, given the circumstances facing so many children there. Andreas Schantz, a volunteer clown, felt a special connection with the people in India and considers the interactions to be important cultural exchanges. He was deeply moved by his experience.
“I saw people living in the worst conditions – in the slums near the Mumbai harbor,” he says. “But they still have such dignity and cleanliness. And almost everyone responded with a smile.”
Photos courtesy Clowns Without Borders – Germany