Clowns Without Borders Germany was founded in 2007 and is a founding-member of the Clowns Without Borders International, which currently consists of 13 national chapters. It is a non-profit organization without any political or religious motives and sends out performing artists and musicians to areas affected by crisis all over the world. These areas mainly experienced war, natural disasters or poverty. Its goal is to help children and their communities to get their right to live a life full of laughter and joy – irrespective of their origin, age, religious, cultural or social background. The association extends humanitarian aid with artistic encounter and cultural understanding between the peoples. All projects within the different regions foster joy of living and the desire for freedom and peaceful coexistence which connects all human beings.
Mission and Vision
We are clowns, acrobats and musicians who perform for people who need a simple laugh the most. We vision a free and open-minded world of play, laughter and dreams, where all people have the opportunity to develop and express themselves freely from cultural boundaries, and feel hope even in vulnerable situations. We see as our mission to provide psychological relief and bring back joy and hope to peoples’ lives. With the arts of clownery and circus we create a surrounding free of pain and prejudices and by sharing experiences with other people, understanding between the different cultures and ideologies is created. “Happiness on earth increases with every laugh" (Jonathan Swift).
Not only physical harm affects the vitality of a person, especially non-obvious reasons such as psychic abuse or hopelessness effect one’s vitality. In the long run, not regarding these issues will lead to a higher mortality rate and violence. Worldwide, millions of people, thereby about a hundred million children, are affected by crisis due to natural catastrophes, war encounters and acute poverty. More than 50 million refugees, whereby 80% were expelled from their home country, lost their space of living. According to fluctuating estimates by big organisations such as UNESCO, about 1.5 billion people live in severe poverty. The children and their environment can indeed survive within such affected areas. Nevertheless, due to the difficult circumstances and the experienced traumatisation the children neither have much joy in life nor a reason to laugh. Therefore, humanitarian aid must not end when food, water and medication for the physical well-being was provided. Joy of living and humour are essential as psychical resources as well. Its deprivation endangers the survival in the same way. The cohesion of social groups which are affected by crisis is under high stress and more likely to break apart. This might lead to a loss of perspective and orientation for one’s future which leads again to a loss in vitality as in a vicious cycle. In the worst case it might end up in a cycle of violence. This fact is mostly unknown to society and only a few projects dedicate themselves to this problem. Our objective is to make the people laugh from the bottom of their hearts and to provide them with fond memories. With the work of our organization, Clowns ohne Grenzen Deutschland e.V., we want to achieve that the laughter and the clowns’ warm-heartedness will remind the children and also the adults of the beautiful and light moments in life. We want to make them feel the positive effects of humor, thus enhancing their resiliencies. Therefore, it is our goal to help them forget their difficult situation for more than just a moment. Many of them do not appear in government aid initiatives, the press or political debates and they are left completely on their own. With our skills we strive to help improve their situation and show that we have not forgotten them. We try to not just leave them with one sole good experience to tell others about, wherever our financial condition permits to come back we do. The excitement about a further visit of the Clowns Without Borders and the maintenance of contacts in between our visits, contribute to the sustainability of our projects. We create positive memories, and by our presence we show that for us these people are special and that we perform especially for them. Additionally, we convey the arts of clownery and circus to members of local organizations to ensure the desired sustainability of our project. “Laughter is one of the best medicines in life.” The same holds true for children, young people and their parents/guardians traumatized by war and violence. Like all globally active Clowns Without Borders organizations we comply with the common Code of Ethics. All clowns/artists volunteer their time. When on expedition, the clowns/artists will make no attempt to offer any personal judgments or express their own opinion on politics or religion. We only express ourselves through our art. After each journey, the participants of the expedition will share their experiences with other clowns/artists and the general public in order to create more understanding between the people of different cultures.
Code of Ethics
The objective of this code is to provide a series of written guidelines of ethics for all clowns and artists who collaborate with Clowns Without Borders.
- The clown or collaborating artist will hold as fundamental objectives to better the situation of children who live in crisis situations of whatever type (conflict, natural disaster, social inequalities, etc.) in whatever part of the world.
- The main beneficiaries of CWB projects are children living in situations of crisis and the clown or collaborating artist will make no distinction between them for reasons of race, age, religion, culture, social situation or any other categorization when offering his/her work.
- For clowns and collaborating artists participating in CWB projects, volunteerism is the general rule.
- In respect to the clown/artist’s public image, he/she will not use the participation in humanitarian activities as a means to promote their professional career, separating clearly at all times such activities and not using his humanitarian work for publicity purposes or to promote his/her professional career.
- The clown or collaborating artist will not use their humanitarian activities to impart personal ‘points of view’ to the destination populations of the projects and will limit themselves to sharing their artistic activities. The artist will not attempt to “educate” the population, refraining from any “evangelical” activities.
- The clown or collaborating artist, when choosing the contents of his/her performances and workshops, will consider the sensibilities of the destination population, taking into account their culture as well as the delicate situation in which they are living.
- The clown or collaborating artist when working with CWB projects sees and shares difficult situations. Their work does not end when they return home. They should testify in the measure possible all situations of injustice that they have witnessed.
- When on expedition, during our performances and in our contact with the public, we remain clowns and artists, and this is the sole method with which we express and experience the validity of our actions.
- We remain vigilant and attentive that the name, logo and identity of Clowns Without Borders will not be used as a vehicle for remuneration.
- In the matter of seeking financial support, we remain attentive to the ethical values and the respect of human rights of our sponsors and partners.