be able to manage the task, but they do, and that gives them enormous confidence. The third step is individual interaction; I learnt from the beginning that this third part is a stage that really works.”
This last step involves developing social skills and the children are asked to tell a story or a joke or demonstrate a skill they have without fear of judgement or criticism. The technique boosts confidence as when children are the ones doing the teaching they realise they also have the power to offer something to others. With the tag line “Art for a cause, not applause. Using laughter as a tool to heal,” the CWC has successfully branched out from centre visits to providing professional entertainment, technical and marketing support for fundraisers while also holding special events in support of humanitarian projects. “We don’t touch money,” Mina explains, “but we use our talent at fundraisers. We donate our time, our services, entertainment… and we help to market charitable events.”
This summer they took the CWC project even further, with their inaugural ClownsWho Care Arts Camp. In July, over a week, a group of volunteers visited the Live It Up! home for rescued children in Uganda, an orphanage that was set up by the Dubai branch of the US-based charity Live It Up Foundation. The 26 children in the home had been found living in one tiny room with a 72-year-old woman they affectionately called Jaja (grandmother) who had taken them in off the streets despite having no money to look after herself.
The foundation placed all the children into temporary accommodation while raising enough money via a series of small events and fundraisers to move them into a new purposebuilt orphanage. When CWC asked what they could do to help, the orphanage said they could provide some entertainment over the summer when the children were prone to becoming a little bored.
CWC designed a project that involved seven core artistic elements – dance, drama, circus skills, visual arts, comedy, rhythm and voice. “It was so appreciated and so rewarding,” Mina says. “Some of the kids at the beginning of the week wouldn’t participate or speak at all, but by the end they were fully involved in a performance. We were so proud of them.”
Branching out to other countries in order to help those in need is something that the CWC envisages doing more of. A return trip to Uganda is planned for next year, but as well as visiting Live it Up!, the intention is to include other communities that are in dire need of assistance. “We want to reach out to kids who haven’t been rescued,” Mina says. “We will always go and visit the Live It Up! kids, but we also want to visit small orphanages surviving with no support and relief centres where people in the slums go to get food.”
The comedy crusaders also plan to take their medicinal laughter to some of the most miserable places on earth. Their next trip will see them team up with charity Breathing Numbers to visit the desolate Zaatari refugee camp on the Jordanian border with Syria. There they hope to perform, engage and entertain the vast number of children who have lost their childhood, their hope and their families to a war they don’t understand.
“We can’t move a mountain,” Mina says, “but we can do a little bit. We’ve seen what we did in Africa, just putting on a show lets them forget, lets them be kids. We get feedback from the special needs centres here that after we leave the kids laugh for a whole day, so if that’s the response and we can make children smile, then let’s do it.”