Clowns bring laughter to Haiti

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Children after a Clowns Without Borders performance in Swaziland. (Image by Flickr user eyesontheroad (cc: by-nc-nd))

This story was originally reported by PRI's Here & Now. For more, listen to the audio player above.

A serious mission lies behind the red noses and balloons used by Clowns Without Borders. The nonprofit, which has operated in poverty-stricken countries throughout the world, is dedicated to bringing "laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency."

The group was originally hesitant about going back to Haiti, even though they had preformed there last year. In an interview with "Here & Now," one of the clowns, Leah Abel, said, "We decided we weren't going to go back after the earthquake unless we were invited. And we had a number of groups asking us to come."

Once there, however, Abel believes the clowns made a difference for the children, many who lost family members or were seriously hurt in the earthquake. Citing studies about how people need laughter, Abel said:

Laughter is a kind of movement, even if it's internal. Especially with kids who cannot move—because they've become disabled or they're sick or whatever the case may be—to let them laugh I think creates some movement in some form.

For some of the children left traumatized after the earthquake, Abel believes that laughing can be an important step toward recovery.

You can watch a video of their performance below:

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