Resilience and future through laughter

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Select sharing service
Dani Sorolla
  • The 'Caravan of Laughter' has sent seven expeditions to Poland since the Ukrainian war began.
    The 'Caravan of Laughter' has sent seven expeditions to Poland since the Ukrainian war began. Source: Clowns Without Borders.
  • In Benin, Clowns Without Borders has visited several mental health centers.
    In Benin, Clowns Without Borders has visited several mental health centers. Source: Clowns Without Borders.
  • The organization founded by Tortell Poltrona has helped improve the emotional situation of refugees in Poland.
    The organization founded by Tortell Poltrona has helped improve the emotional situation of refugees in Poland. Source: Clowns Without Borders.

The 'Caravan of Laughter', the most genuine project of Pallassos Sense Fronteres (Clowns Without Borders), has sent seven expeditions to Poland since the start of the war in Ukraine to provide emotional support to refugees.

"It's difficult to come back", confesses Anna Confetti, clown of Pallassos Sense Frontres (Clowns Without Borders), in one of the last entries on the organization's blog, which she wrote just after arriving from Poland. Anna is one of the artists who has been part of the 'Caravan of Laughter' expedition on the edge of the Ukrainian border, where she has spread laughter right and wrong among the people - especially the children - who they flee the horror of war.

It will soon be thirty years since Clowns Without Borders has given hope and smiles where they are most needed, that is, in places besieged by war, natural disasters or other situations such as poverty and hunger. Since it was launched in 1993, coinciding with the wars in Yugoslavia, the organization founded by the clown Tortell Poltrona has brought the 'Caravan of Laughter', its most genuine project, to more than a hundred countries .

Everywhere they have gone, they have helped people, especially children and the refugee population, to endure the worst adversities and improve their emotional health in very hostile contexts.

"We always say that laughter activates people's resilience processes, and this is immediately noticeable; people who suffer from these situations arrive with a very heavy backpack of emotions and, for a moment, they unload this burden, enjoy the show and the laughter and somehow manage to forget their reality", Marta López expresses to Xarxanet, head of communication for Clowns Without Borders.

The destinations where the 'Caravan of Laughter' stops are being updated and depend on the needs that exist in the world at that time and on the contacts that the entity has with organizations, both local and international, that work on the ground. "We can't cover the whole world, because our resources are limited and because we don't have contacts to go to some places", says López, who cites Yemen as an example, where the expedition has not yet been able to go.

Seven expeditions to Poland since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine

This year, as it could not be otherwise, the caravan has put a lot of effort into offering support to the refugee population following the war in Ukraine. They have already sent seven expeditions to Poland, close to the border with Ukraine. Anna Confetti has taken part in one of these expeditions: "We have done performances where people immediately approached, participated and laughed; in others they have been sadder and more abstract in their reality, but little by little they were entering the show, while changing their sad faces for laughter", he writes on the organization's blog.

The first trip to Poland to alleviate the drama of the Ukrainian population was organized only three weeks after the war broke out, showing off a great ability to respond quickly to the emergency. "In the beginning, floods of refugees came every day to the border towns; now, the situation has stabilized a little and the population is more dispersed around the country and that first big flow has loosened a little", details Marta López.

There, the artists of Clowns Without Borders explain that they have performed mainly for an audience made up of children, their mothers and the elderly, because the men had to stay in Ukraine. In this sense, they add from the organization, they have tried – they always do, but in this case, more – to send female artists and there have been expeditions in which 100% of the clowns have been women.

"Moms, excited, have thanked us very much for our work and have recognized that moments of joy are necessary, both for the child and for them; another hugged us, saying that her children hadn't laughed since they fled Kyiv", reports Anna Confetti. In fact, as Tortell Poltrona said in a conversation with journalist Clara Paolini in the newspaper 'El País', "the fuzzier the situation, the louder the laughter."

This is what happened in Poland. "When they perform here in Catalonia they have a very good audience, but in these situations it's a different story and it's often the spectators who receive the shows best, because it's the first time they've seen or it's the first time they've seen a clown; in the end, the language of laughter is universal and knows no borders", adds López.

Professional and volunteer artists

Despite all the affection they receive and the fact that they are professionals, working and making people laugh in difficult contexts like these is often not easy to digest emotionally. For all that, Clowns Without Borders always asks artists and people who are interested in participating to be professionals. This year, apart from Poland, the 'Caravan of Laughter' has stopped in Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Togo and Benin.

In addition to professionals, the artists of Clowns Without Borders are volunteers. In all these years, more than a thousand artists from the performing arts have been part of the project at one point or another, and they have had such well-known ambassadors of laughter as Pep Callau, el Circ Cric, Pepe Viyuela, Mireia Peña and Claire Ducreux, among many others.

A whole range of artists led by Tortell Poltrona, founder and alma mater of the entity. Precisely now, Poltrona and other artists have taken the 'Caravan of Laughter' to Benin, in West Africa, where they are performing in mental health centers, this one for the adult population, which is the victim of a very strong stigmatization and they are seen as the product of witchcraft or curses because of the diseases they suffer from.

So that Clowns Without Borders can continue doing this work and causing waves of laughter everywhere, the organization has several ways of collaboration open, which can be consulted through the organization's website, to make donations and help the artists continue poking their noses into the most adverse contexts. Because, as they say, "laughter is resilience".

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.