Emergency Smile Missions 2018
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
“Emergency Smile” is an innovative international Healthcare Clowning program that RNI develops since 2013, in collaboration with strong international partners on the ground, to various countries around the world that either suffer conflicts and natural disasters, or face migration emergencies, to provide psychological support to the diverse transiting populations and, in primis, to children. The missions, adapted to the age and the specific needs of the children, consist of different activities of clowning and Healthcare Clowning that give them the possibility to express their feelings in a playful manner, to help them to reconnect to positive feelings and regain resilience and hope. Furthermore, RNI uses an integrated approach when conducting emergency missions by addressing as well the needs of the humanitarian aid workers (medical staff, social workers, psychologists, etc.) and volunteers that daily work on the frontline by running Humour Workshops to teach them how to use “Humour” as a non-verbal communication tool when interacting with beneficiaries.
The Emergency Smile Missions are conducted by an international and multidisciplinary team of clown-doctors, trained following a specific RNI curriculum, who receive a regular training “The Special Emergency Smile Training” on the specific needs and different artistic interventions used in emergency and migration settings. Every mission ends up with a Debriefing during which clown-doctors can process and reflect on lived experiences, discus about critical issues detected during the mission, share the Lessons Learnt and, if necessary, to have a psychological consultation. In addition, all the missions undergo an accurate Monitoring & Evaluation Process, specifically designed by RNI, based on a triangulation method of data collection (clown-doctors, Head of Mission and direct beneficiaries) and tended to measure the qualitative impact on beneficiaries (children and humanitarian aid workers) as well as the effectiveness, sustainability and replicability of the Program on the long-term.
From 2013 up today, RNI conducted 23 missions in 7 countries
(Belarus, Cameroun, Jordan, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone and Ukraine),
reaching 12’550 beneficiaries.
Missions supported by AMG
Since 2014, the Ukraine’s eastern region is characterized by an on-going armed conflict in which the continued hostilities, arbitrary detentions, restrictions in the freedom of expression and the lack of medical and sanitary facilities strongly impact and restrain the life of the population and particularly of the children. The high level of insecurity and the lack of humanitarian corridors obliged thousands of people to flee their homes and take refuge in the different shelter centers destined to IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) located in the central and western part of the country. To adress this issue, RNI conducted, in collaboration with the Ukrainian Red Cross Soci ety (URCS) a 4 weeks Emergency Smile Mission in different shelter centers and hospital facilities in the Kiev Oblast; in several rehabilitation centers for physical and mental disabled children and one Special Needs School in Bila Tserkva, thus reaching a total of 287 minors and transferring the skills of Healthcare Clowning to 56 humanitarian aid workers and volunteers of the URCS, as well as 29 clown-doctors from 5 Ukrainian Healthcare Clowning organizations.
“[The RED NOSES Clowns’] assistance is an invaluable contribution to the development of psychosocial activities by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and certainly a tangible support in the dissemination of information about methods and forms of psychosocial support. Thanks to the received good expertise, the URCS will be able to achieve great results in improving the welfare of the beneficiaries affected by the crisis”.
(Ukrainian Red Cross Society)
The situation in Moria camp is amongst the worst humanitarian disasters witnessed in migrant and refugee centers on Lesbos (Greece). Everyone suffers from overcrowding and women and girls are routinely molested and even raped. The situation is dire and most people get traumatised and undergo through psycosis and grave mental illnesses. Out of the 9’000 people located there, 3’000 of them are children. To adress this humanitarian crisis in a timely manner, RNI conducted, in collaboration with Médecins sans Frontières Greece (MSF) and the NGO RefugeeforRefugees, a two weeks urgent mission on Lesbos in Moria Camp (Olive Grove area in the medical facility of MSF); Kara Tepe Camp (in collaboration with Refugee4Refugees) and the Gekko Kids School (Mytilene), a school exclusively intended to unaccompanied minor refugees, thus reaching a total of 1’330 minors, and transferring the skills of the Healthcare Clowning to 13 humanitarian aid workers and volunteers of Refugee4Refugees who attended the Humour Workshop.
“The work [RED NOSES Clowns] do here is so important. These children desperately need positive images in their life in order to become psychologically healthy and be able to contribute in a good way wherever they end up”.
(The manager of the Kara Tepe Camp)
Objectives reached by the Emergency Smile Missions
The two missions in Ukraine and Lesbos helped to:
- Give children, refugee and migrants, the possibility to emerge from trauma and to express their feeligns in a playful manner, to reconnect to positive feelings and regain resilience and hope;
- Improve the emotional wellbeing of sick children and/or children with disabilities, reduce their anxiety and strenghten their coping mechanisms;
- Transfer the Skills of Healthcare Clowning to the local Staff members in order to increase their psychosocial wellbeing and help them reduce the stress they experience in their everyday professional lives;
- Strenghten the Capacity Building of the local Healthcare Clowning organizations and multiply the impact on beneficiaries;
- Efficiently implement a systemic approach, based on the artistic interventions of the clown-doctors and a psychosocial support, in the humanitarian and migration settings;
- Give a certain amount of autonomy to local humanitarian aid workers to replicate the program and make it sustainable on the long term.