Our Emergency Response Mission to Turkey
April 2023 saw the very first Emergency Response mission from Emergency Smile. A mission designed to provide reactionary relief following a natural disaster. After a devastating earthquake struck areas in northern and western Syria and central Turkey, millions of people were facing life-altering circumstances such as homelessness, injury, and mental-health repercussions. With so many people in urgent need of psychosocial support, our team of three experienced clowns and one head of mission headed to Reyhanli, Turkey to share the power of laughter.
As the first mission of its kind, this Emergency Response mission called for a lot of adaptability. The team were met with many challenges working in response to a natural disaster but thanks to their strong team spirit and flexibility, plenty of special moments were created.
The activities conducted by the team ranged from musical parades through camps and bazaars, to community building at food lines. In total, 674 people were reached, with 570 of those being children and young people, and the team played 16 different artistic formats.
An important element of this mission was working with people who were having to rebuild their lives while mourning their losses. Our team was focused on creating and sharing moments of joy to spark hope.
The team reported a strong sense of community from the very beginning of the mission. Despite language barriers and different cultural backgrounds, our clowns and head of mission were able to form beautiful connections with people. The magical power of laughter created a safe space and encouraged people to open up and share their stories.
“With the help of a translator, this lady shared her whole story with us. When I told this to the Eurorelief staff they were so surprised. They said she has been coming to their food line for some weeks already, and they do not even know her name.” – Natalie Porias, RED NOSES CEO
Throughout this mission, the team did an impressive job of thinking on their feet, creating clown shows directly in the field and performing artistic interventions on the spot. The people in the field who were facing extremely challenging and life-altering circumstances responded incredibly well to these moments of humour and joy, getting involved in singing, dancing, and clown shows.
Bringing art and laughter to the most unlikely places was a key element of the mission. There was a large focus on creating moments of connection among people in a community setting, such as food distribution lines.
“I loved working at the food line because we could really spread around our playfulness. Sometimes we put our focus on just a couple of people who will keep your game going for some time but I could see so many people observing around and laughing so much.” Marko Kalc – Emergency Smile Clown
While this Emergency Response mission to Turkey presented a new and sometimes challenging working environment, the impact of the mission was beautiful. The team was encouraged to develop important skills and it was incredibly touching to establish a sense of community with those in the field. This mission once again highlighted the power of laughter, even during the darkest times.