Clowns Without Borders South Africa is part of an international family of colourful clowns housed under the Clowns Without Borders International umbrella. CWBSA has 13 sister chapters, and they meet once a year to talk clown business at a General Assembly. This year Annabel Morgan (CWBSA’s International Representative) and I were requested to go represent our chapter in Germany.
Although I was very excited to be going to Germany, I was also very terrified. I didn’t think I would do a good job of representing our chapter’s values and amazing expansive work. But the fear kicked in also because I knew I would be one of the few people of colour present, as most chapters are from Europe. I was scared that this lack of diversity would see my voice lost in a sea of opinions. But what I am learning about this organisation is that is made up of some of the most wonderful people I have ever met, and they respected my voice and opinions like everyone else’s.
My fears quickly evaporated when after hours of traveling I was met with a huge hug from the two meter tall Heiko at the Munich Airport. And as I met more people from different parts of the world, I felt at home and I started feeling confident and I was determined to do my best to represent CWBSA and the issues we felt were important to raise.
I learned a tremendous amount by being at the General Assembly. I got a better understanding of what CWBI was and it’s aims. It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s happening in our own chapter, and usually this means the CWBI is not prioritized. Being at the GA meant I could dedicate sometime to understand CWBI’s work, and thus be able to make meaningful contributions. It was very generous of some chapters to share their strategies regarding their growth and fundraising efforts. I was very inspired to possibly start incorporating their ideas into our own strategies and think out of the box! All the chapters I spoke to about possible collaboration on our continent were very eager to do so. I am hoping that all the seedlings we planted in Germany will yield growth on our continent. I was also very pleased to see how open people were to have this conversation around diversity, it’s not always an easy conversation to have, but I believe it is imperative! The only way this change can happen is if we address it head on. Hopefully our conversations will bring about meaningful change.
Like most meetings of this nature, some meetings were tiring and felt unending, some were heated in debate, some were raw and honest, some were fun and quick, some brought real change, some could not reach a conclusion. But what stood out to me was our steadfast insistence to remain true to our objective of clowning and playfulness.
I walked away from this year’s GA determined and motivated to continue with the work we do. I hope all the intentions we set will come to fruition.
– Linda Kaoma