Clowns On Human Rights Day.jpgTruck drives out to do shows around remote areas of Matatiele…1 minute later…

Alice: Sibu, I forgot to bring a banana for the show.
Sibu: Oh no, me too!
Truck halts. Turns around….

That’s what you get when you’re working with clowns. We are bringing joy and laughter with our Eastern Cape tour, also known as Project Siyazisiza. Our NGO partner is Petal’s Day Care Centre for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. These caregivers are angels in the community, going to houses and making sure children have food to eat and can attend school regardless of financial difficulties.

Clowns and Petals.jpgThey also administer treatment per doctor’s orders, give bed baths, educate families on caring for one another and much, much more. The children they are helping are those who are the heads of their
households, as their family members have been affected and infected with HIV and AIDS. Clowns Without Borders South Africa have partnered with them repeatedly because our goal is similar: to support children and to help them grow strong despite the difficulties surrounding them.

Several of the caregivers come with us to all our shows, giving us directions, helping us get feedback from the Principals and, of course, dancing in the truck with us to our blasting music.

This past week we have done eleven shows in five days to well over 5000 children. Thursday, March 21, was Human Right’s Day, so the children didn’t have school. But the clowns showed up to do shows, and the kids came…. 500 for the first school. Our second school was in a very remote location that afternoon, about 45 minutes from Matatiele. Kids were walking a great distance to see the show, all 90 of them.

Mayor Loves a clown show!.jpgI think my favourite show this week was Friday’s first show; it was a long weekend for the children and the school had forgotten to tell them about the clowns coming. Does that stop a clown show? Not this
clown show! Sipho got in the truck and drove all over the village, blasting Big Nuz tunes and telling the kids to head to the show. We had over 90 children and community members come out to laugh it up with the clowns.

No, wait, I changed my mind… My favourite show was Friday afternoon.

Our partners told us that the Mayor of Matatiele had heard about the clowns and wanted to see the show. We went to the office (picture a small but very classy parliament set up) and the Mayor turned to us and said: “Are you ready to do the show?” Sibu and I looked at each other, somewhat panicked, “yes”. Then we all did some major rethinking of how to adjust it for the space. From the beginning of the show to the end, the Mayor was laughing, clapping and getting a kick out of the clowns she had heard so much about.

We quietly packed everything out of the office (because the Mayor had to get back to serious business) and back into the truck. We shared a laugh about the chaotic, rewarding day.

Sibu: Whew, who has the car keys?
Clowns all look at each other, confused.
Sibu: Oh, I have them right here.

That’s what you get when you’re working with clowns.

– Alice Nelson – Artistic Director; DJ Sound Clown
26 March 2013

Project Siyazisiza is sponsored by Europcar, the RMB Fund, and Operation Sock Monkey. Thanks for the support!