Friday, 24 May 2024

Clowns Without Borders puts smiles on faces of Ukrainian refugee kids

A UK charity which sends clowns into war zones to cheer up traumatised children has put smiles back on the faces of almost 4,000 Ukrainian refugee kids, forced to flee their homes in terror.

This week Unicef warned that Russia’s invasion is devastating the mental health of war-shattered Ukrainian youngsters, with 1½ million terrified kids at risk of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

Clowns Without Borders UK (CWB UK), is a UK charity that sends children’s entertainers into war and disaster zones to provide laughter and play and boost mental health and alleviate the suffering of the youngest victims.

Now CWB UK has revealed it has already put smiles back on the faces of 3,879 Ukrainian children and their families who fled the bombs and rockets to the safety of 15 refugee centres in Moldova, Poland and Romania.

They have also trained more than 100 humanitarian workers to deliver laughter, play and joyful activity workshops to thousands more affected children.

In footage released by the charity of their workshops in the refugee camps, one 11-year-old Ukrainian child said: “Normally, I feel like a clown on the inside. Today, I was a clown for real!”

When an eight-year-old was asked about what they best liked about the show they gushed: “Umbrellas! Hoops! Everything!”

The charity said helping children focus on play – to avoid dwelling on the horrific sights they have witnessed – even just for a short time as that can significantly boost their mental trauma recovery.

Samantha Holdsworth, the CEO of Clowns Without Borders UK, said: “Children are so often the forgotten victims of war.

“Although they may seem physically well, the impact of conflict on their emotional and psychological health cannot be underestimated.

“We can make a positive impact during these challenging times. Clowns Without Borders UK (CWB UK) provides emotional First Aid for Children through laughter and play.

“We want children to feel happy, inside and out, and our goal is to bring joy to those children in refugee camps.

“In situations of disaster and war, the basic human right to play is taken away and via the Clowns we are proud to provide joyful workshops through laughter and play in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, which gives critical emotional relief to children.

“This ensures their long-term mental health, enabling them to become resilient adults.”

She added: “Our international network of professional clowns is ready to be deployed to provide companions-on-the ground to support children in play to aid their future well-being.

“We also facilitate culturally sensitive, ‘playshops’ and play sessions to help children deal with their new practical reality.

“We train local people to give them too, to deliver psychosocial support to a much greater number of children on an ongoing basis.”

CWB UK supports children affected by war, conflict and natural disasters to heal, learn and thrive through play.

Backed by Plan International, CWB UK is a humanitarian charity, delivering critical emotional first aid to children in conflict and disaster zones worldwide.

* To support children who have been forced to flee their homes with emotional respite, donations can be made by clicking here.


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