What we do
Emergency Smile (ES) is a program implemented by RED NOSES International (RNI) in different crisis settings that aims to enable joy and promote the emotional well-being and resilience of children and youth affected by crisis and their support systems.
The main intervention of the ES Programme is the ES Missions. In a mission a transnational group of specially trained Clown Artists, together with a Head of Mission; develop a holistic intervention in a crisis setting in a period of 3 to 4 weeks by applying a portfolio of artistic formats, to reach audiences in different ways.
People affected by crisis require special care. Too often, these people receive the immediate aid to survive, but frequently their emotional and mental well-being is overlooked. We help people reconnect with joyful emotions in order to rekindle hope, transform their focus by concentrating on positive aspects of life, and show them that life still has happiness in store for them.
Stories from the field
When I touched her, I felt like a beam of energy coming out of her hands. It made me shiver. With that touch, is like if I could feel all of her story for a second. For me, It was very beautiful and strong at the same time, and I believe it was for her too, because she smiled and danced.
I kept asking myself what I could do to connect with them and suddenly we did something small and they laughed and we said: “YES! YES! Let’s go Tina! Let’s go Mario! We can do it!”
In these special moments, we felt as if they were going back to childhood. This is what I think they needed and what we created together. Yes, they live in a dangerous situation trying to cross the border to reach Europe and they might look like grown-ups but they are children in need of love. They need to have a moment of love and a good laugh. Love and laugh. That’s what we all need!
For me it is easy to connect with their stories and feel them, because as a Palestinian I heard the stories from my grandparents and I know this could happen again, I could be in their shoes.
We, clowns, cannot cancel war but we cannot stop creating love around us and make people laugh… no matter where we are.
We worked with a group of children, their parents and other adults who were interested. Together we had our Circus Smile format and for the final show, we created a story about a group of children who got lost and was looking for the way home. Some played the violin; others showed magic tricks or created simple scenography with what was available.
Together we created a simple but powerful story about life on the road. How to overcome hardships and how to find a way together to a new home. A woman then told us that thanks to us she had started laughing again after a year and this opened up new hope for her.
On more and more missions, I realized that people were losing their security without warning and felt like drowning. We, the clowns, offer them our clownish island of hope, the joy from which they can see other horizons.
We lived and worked all week with people who had lost everything, but I still had the impression that I was the one leaving with a gift that this people had unknowingly given me.
As I was waving goodbye to a small boy that I have spent some time with while he was being vaccinated, I turned around and I saw a frightened ten-year-old girl standing at the entrance of the tent. I immediately went to her and welcomed her in, but she was too afraid to enter so we started playing around in the entrance.
Once the doctor called: “Next!” she got scared again. I told her “I am with you. I will be with you the whole time! Let's get vaccinated together!” and she nodded. While the doctor was preparing to give her the shot, she got scared all over again so I came closer to her face and gently pressed my red nose to her nose. Suddenly she began to laugh hard. We were looking into each other’s eyes and we were both laughing. It was wonderful!
While she was laughing, the doctor gave her the vaccine. The girl didn’t even notice it!
The doctor looked at her and said, “we just vaccinated you with laughter!”
This was a powerful and important moment. I really felt like I successfully distracted her from the “scary” needle and eased the doctor's work. The girl left this vaccination smiling and maybe even with a pleasant memory. I only distracted her, but in order to really distract a child, you have to establish a connection from the very beginning, and have fun together.
Emergency Smile Missions
They speak about us...
After every session, the children are asking when will they see the clowns again; they are really looking forward to having the sessions with RED NOSES.
The positive impact goes beyond the sessions, afterwards they are very cheerful it reflects on other activities they do… it really brings a lot of smiles in the camp.