My husband called me over to watch a video the other day. It was a documentary on Netflix about refugees, and Hector thought I might be interested because the first place they were filming was the island of Lesvos, Greece. (We were just there last month.) The movie followed photojournalists as they were capturing the lives and struggles of refugees around the world.
After looking at all the heart-breaking pictures, I was reminded of all the images of refugees that I have, both on my computer and in my mind.
The refugees in my photos are smiling.
My husband and daughter did amazing jobs capturing the delight that can enter a child's life when a clown is in the room, or in the tent. The pictures I will share today are from various clown events in 2011, particularly among refugees in Tunisia.
Don't get me wrong. I am not making light of the hardships they suffer as they flee horrendous situations in their home countries. I have witnessed the aggression, and the frustration, that are a daily part of refugee camp life.
I live in a foreign country, but that is my choice; I was not escaping the ravages of war. I was led away from my friends and family by the Lord; I was not forced out of my home and country.
The adult refugees are fully aware of the situations they are in, but the younger children only know that they have been uprooted, and they cling to their parents for some sense of security.
Then, just when life at the refugee camp is becoming routine, here comes a clown! Along with a break from the monotony comes a reason to smile and laugh. Here is a time to forget the difficult journey and the long days. Here is an hour or two when they can let go of the fear and trauma.
We can probably agree that everyone in the world goes through difficult things, including children, even in middle-class American suburbs. It doesn't matter if you are clowning with refugees, at kids' birthday parties, at hospitals, or at churches. One or more of the people in your audience might need you, right at that moment, to help them forget the trauma in their lives.
What I am trying to say is thank you Thank you for being there, wherever you are, and bringing joy and laughter to those who need it.