In an effort to help displaced children living in camps in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo cope with the trauma of seemingly endless conflict, clowns have come to the rescue.
"Children who live in areas of crisis, such as conflict or post-conflict zones, rarely get to laugh," Asuka Imai, a field officer with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the eastern DRC town of Goma, said in a statement. About half the million people displaced by fighting in eastern DRC are children.
The entertainers from Clowns Without Borders performed to some 48,000 people in all. The NGO was created in 1993 because of the suffering, especially among children, caused by the war in the former Yugoslavia. They are professional clowns or circus artists who volunteer their time and talent.
"I will be leaving the camp soon since peace has generally come back to my village," said Pascal, 42, from the Masisi region. But he hoped Clowns without Borders would return to perform for those who will bear the mental scars even after going home.
"Even there, children need this kind of entertainment to overcome the suffering and the difficulties, to continue with their life," he said. "Bringing a smile to an unfortunate kid, or even any normal kid, is a wonderful gift to give."
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