3-month Emergency Smile mission in Lesvos

23.November 2023

For three months during 2023, three rotating Emergency Smile teams embarked on a transformative three-month pilot project on the Greek island of Lesvos. Their mission was clear: to shift from short-term impact to long-term change, to deepen the reach of Emergency Smile, and to establish a stable presence on Lesvos.

Long-term impact on Lesvos

Numerous Emergency Smile missions have already taken place on Lesvos in an effort to share the power of humour and laughter with people facing forced migration. 

This time around, the team decided to remain present for three months, having at least one clown and the Head of Mission present for the whole time. 

With more time spent in the field, the team aimed to reach more audiences and invest more time in identifying barriers to eventually overcome them.

© RED NOSES International - Craig Russell

The mission in numbers

With the aim to reach more audiences in mind, each team worked together with diverse demographics, creating moments of joy and connection through the art of clowning.

The statistics from this three-month pilot project showcase a significant impact:

  • 112 formats played
  • 3,586 people reached in total
  • 43 Circus Smile workshops
  • 36 community building activities

Beyond the numbers, the team's reflections and the feedback from partners revealed profound changes in the community.

“We learnt how to work with all demographics. I can say that we can have an impact pretty much everywhere. We can say that we can support every organisation, no matter with whom they work.” - Craig Russel, Head of Mission

The power of laughter

From empowering children to empowering aid workers, our Emergency Smile teams on mission in Lesvos succeeded in fostering numerous positive connections.

Adults rediscovered their playful selves, aid workers found stress relief, and community atmospheres improved.

The team's ability to adapt, connect, and spread joy became a testament to the transformative power of laughter in humanitarian work.

© RED NOSES International - Craig Russell

What we learned

Valuable learnings and recommendations emerged following this extended mission in Lesvos. From the importance of maintaining creativity to the need for breaks between teams, the team's insights will undoubtedly shape their future endeavours.

The impact of their work goes beyond immediate smiles; it resonates in the lasting connections formed and the positive shift in the community's atmosphere.

Our Emergency Smile teams proved that laughter knows no boundaries—it transcends language, age, and circumstance, offering a glimmer of hope and humanity in the face of adversity.