Clowns Without Borders Brings Laughter to Refugee Camps

Clowns Without Borders, YouTube
Clowns Without Borders, YouTube / Clowns Without Borders, YouTube

Non-profit performing arts group Clowns Without Borders has been bringing laughter to refugee camps for more than two decades. The group, which is made up of professional clowns and performers, travels around the world putting on free shows and giving workshops in an attempt to joy to children and adults living in crisis zones.

The group was founded by Spanish clown Tortell Poltrona in 1993. Poltrona, who'd been predominantly performing throughout Spain at that point, was invited to give a show at a refugee camp in Croatia. He showed up, unsure of what to expect, and worried no one would want to see him perform. To his surprise, 700 children attended the show. 

Poltrona suddenly realized the amount of psychological support a little laughter could bring people—so he founded Clowns Without Borders. The group, which is generally made up of volunteers, travels to crisis areas, which they loosely define as sites of "conflict, natural disaster, social inequalities, etc." Just this year, they've performed for refugees in Kenya and Turkey, for kids at the St. PJ's Children's Home in San Antonio, and led workshops in Nepal and Columbia.

Most recently, the group has been performing for refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. Highlights of that performance can be seen on AJ+. To learn more about the work the group does, check out the video from them below.