Guatemala City, December 2016
Gesundheit Institute clowns teamed up with US and Canadian veterans, both retired and active duty, for our second foray into humanitarian clowning. Ten veterans suffering the wounds of war(s) engaged in daily excursions to deliver joy, peace, and balloon animals to those in dire need of a loving presence.
We visited children’s hospitals, cancer wards, dialysis clinics, and facilities for profoundly handicapped children. We clowned openly in the streets, for psychiatric patients in locked wards, and in the airports all the way there and back. It was impossible to tell who were the “experienced clowns” and who were the veterans, clowning for their first time. We were a clown troupe—a clown “squad.”
On day one veterans were united in experiencing nervousness toward their new role—that of the “harbinger of joy,” but by day two relaxed into the camaraderie of kookiness. Many conversations over dinner, and as a group addressed the need for this trip and its community-building. What they uniformly expressed was a sense of the walls around their hearts coming down. For the first time in months or years, the veterans felt in touch with their joyful inner child. Rather than hiding their feelings, the veterans felt permission to share this (loving, joyful, goofy) inner child with everyone else.
Veterans from the Gulf Wars, Desert Storm, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and other operations had been recommended for the clown trip by health professionals familiar with the difficulties of war-related trauma (Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress, Military Sexual Trauma, and other injuries). The Gesundheit staff was eager to offer this trip to another set of veterans, based on our first year’s positive experience.
We look forward to offering a third veterans clown trip in Autumn 2017.
Please contact Charlotte for more information.
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