These Clowns Visit Refugees to Bring a Smile to Children's Faces

A joyful refuge from the camp

Apr 22, 2019

In a Greek refugee camp, a clown stands in front of the children and fills them with something they’ve lost; their joy. Some of these children are barely older than two, and they all run around the camp--their new home after their families fled from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Now, they’re in Greece, as their parents hope for a better life, away from the violence. The Flying Seagull Project wants to give these kids back their childhood, at least for a short period of time.

Every day, The Flying Seagulls visit the camp, play games, and put on shows for their pint-sized audience. Ringmaster, Ash Perrin, has loved seeing the light and wonder come back onto the children’s faces.

“It used to take 15 minutes before you saw their child's faces. They came with hard adult faces. Now the minute they see us it’s the vulnerable open child we see. They’re responding well,” he told The Guardian.

The games are built so that everyone can understand how to play--no language required. Instead, the volunteers utilize sounds and movement to get the ‘rules’ across. Perrin said it’s more inclusive not to use language. “We try not to speak too much because there’s something very inclusive about not needing to understand anything to play the game. A circle is a very strong structure. In a circle there’s no start or finish so no one gets to be at the front. It’s a productive shape to use,” Perrin said.

The Ringmaster added that they aim to create moments that make them feel lighter and raise their sense of belonging and mattering. Professional actor and member of The Flying Seagulls, Miriam Needham, believes happiness matters just as much as water, food, and shelter.

“I’ve seen the change it can bring to people, how it can make people strong just to laugh. Happiness and joy are contagious – it goes from the children to the parents out to the whole community.”

And for Perrin, the sooner in the children’s lives, they can help bring some positivity into their days, the better they’ll be able to cope with their trauma down the road. As long as the kids are still living in the Greek refugee camps, Perrin says the group will visit and help provide the emotional support and morale boost they need.

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Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.