My name is Alice Nelson and I'm a volunteer with Clowns Without Borders South Africa. I have volunteered on 4 expeditions in South Africa and I'm planning to go on my 5th in March 2013! I'm very excited to return to this work, as I know first-hand that the clowns have a huge impact in the lives of the children who have lost loved ones to HIV/AIDS.
Clowns Without Borders (CWB) is a humanitarian organization dedicated to using arts based interventions to improve the psychosocial condition of children and their guardians in areas of crisis throughout the world.
One of the ways the CWB volunteers bring joy and laughter to villages and townships is through touring a clown show. The clown shows have audience participation, which allows the children to be the heroes of the show; they solve the problems for the confused clowns.
Volunteers perform 2-3 shows every morning for 3 weeks to audiences of 10 to 1200 children. One of the best parts of performing in a CWB show is hearing the children laughing! When it's over 1000 kids, it literally hurts your ears. The kids remember the shows; it’s incredible when you return to a village or a township and the children are still singing songs from last year’s show. In the afternoons, we work with the children in the orphanages. We facilitate classes in circus (juggling, stilts, acrobatics), and life dreams (creating stories and scenes about their hopes and dreams). We play a lot of games (tag never gets old).
My aim is to raise $3500. Volunteers for expeditions must raise their own funds. This includes my return plane ticket, food, lodging (while in Durban, rehearsing the clown show), travel insurance, rent, and taxi fare. The plane ticket is the biggest expense at $2000. Once we are working in the field I billet in the townships, often with people who work with Non-governmental organizations (Clowns Without Borders partners with NGOs who run orphanages).
The impact of this work is huge, on so many levels. For the children, especially the ones who are 10 or 12 and take care of their brothers and sisters because they have lost their parents, it gives them a chance to be children again. They get to spend the afternoon playing in a safe environment. Often the circus skills and performing helps them build confidence. But the impact isn't just felt by the children, we also facilitate workshops for their caregivers, the Gogos. These ladies are often looking after their children's children. We give them workshops in storytelling and play. These women have suffered great loss and seeing them sing, dance and tell stories is inspiring.
As a volunteer with Clown Without Borders, my duty is to return home and raise social awareness regarding the plight of AIDS in Africa. I have written newspaper columns (Neighbors, Calgary Herald 2008), given presentations (Calgary Rotary Clubs, Shriners Calgary), and toured a solo show (ELEPHANT) about my experiences.
Your donation will allow me to bring joy and laughter to those who need it most. Please read about the amazing work done by Clown Without Borders on their websites.
Volunteer with Clowns Without Borders