It was a tweet from RTVE’s correspondent Almudena Ariza about the work of a group of clowns at one of Ukraine’s borders. They were welcoming refugee children with smiles and jests; Aritza tweeted «This is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time» and shared a video of children in fits of laughter from The Dream Doctors Program. And then I thought about the organization born in Catalunya in 1993, Pallassos Sense Fronteres or Clowns without Borders, and in the joy they have brought children in conflict zones since their work began. Without doubt, they pioneered the idea of organizing to understand the social power of smiles because their mission «consists in improving the emotional situation of a childhood suffering the consequences of armed conflicts, wars, or natural catastrophes.»
In their webpage, they tell how their story arose: about the way a connection between a school in Barcelona (Escola Projecte) and a school in the city of Veli Joze, in current day Croatia prompted the children in Barcelona to contact the clown Tortell Poltrona to take him to the refugee camp in Savudrija. And from that first trip to the Balkan War the need to continue came about to such an extent that they had to create an organization by the name of «Clowns Without Borders International» to bring together multiple associations throughout the world that follow «the same ethical values» as PSF.
Pallassos Sense Fronteres now returns to Ukraine, where they had been in 2018 supporting the refugee children from the Donbas War. And with their work in Lebanon, Burkina Faso, Colombia and Ethiopia they bear witness that there is still hope in the human condition, that we can still be good…making others smile.