Blogginlägg från Bangladesh

"The only thing I could really promise her was that I hope I come back very soon"

It was my first trip to Bangladesh with Clowns Without Borders Sweden. I was a little nervous, curious, excited and happy to go there with three other artists that I had never met before. But I had a gut feeling that this trip was going to be special and that in the end of the tour I would have three new friends and that I would feel much richer than I did before the tour.

I remember the day when I got the call that I would be going to Bangladesh. Before leaving I wanted more information about the crisis and read more about the Rohingya people and everything that has happened to them. It was difficult and heart breaking to realize how the past years for these people have been. I remember a first phone call with my tour leader Jonas telling me: ‘All of the people we are going to meet have seen their families murdered or raped in front of their eyes. Every single person at the camps have seen something that nobody should have ever seen. They are traumatized.’

With this background I arrived in Bangladesh the 20th of November 2018 and I will never forget my first day at the camp. Waking up at 6.30, fast breakfast and then heading to the camps. 2 hours of driving in a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride but made it all safe through crazy traffic of Bangladesh and saw the camps. It seemed like endless city with thousands of shelters. Lots of people walking around, kids running around. I felt overwhelmed: where to even start, how can I give enough to these people? You want to give at least something to everybody because you know what they have gone through is not human in any ways. You want to give a little bit of your time to every face you see, a hand shake to every single adult and child that you pass by. But that’s not possible so you have to start somewhere and hope that it will be enough. It was an emotional day full of tears, sadness, laughter and happy meetings. The day felt like a week to me.  When we walked through the camps the children ran out from the shelter screaming: ‘Hello-how-are-yoooouuu-thank-yooooou-welcome-byebyeeee!’. The most remarkable moment for me was to realize how much love these people were willing to give to us, to some weird looking strangers who they have never seen before and had no idea of our intension. And yet, they came to say hello, welcoming us to their new home with nothing but love, joy and curiosity.

I became friends with a little girl from the camp. I met her when we were walking from the car to the child friendly spaces. She came out from one of the shelters and wanted to know my name. The next day she was there again, waiting to see me again. This time she walked with me all the way through the camp. A week alter we returned to this same camp and I got the meet her again. After our performance she stayed with us for some time and I had beautiful conversations with her, of course without a common language but it was not necessary to have words to be able to talk. There were many other children also who wanted to do some acrobatics that they had seen in the show. I asked my little friend if she also wanted to but she refused, she was shy. I saw her again next day from that. She came running towards me and told me how she would now want to do some acrobatics. Before leaving the camp for the last time she asked me when I am coming back. The only thing I could really promise her was that I hope I come back very soon.

Since day one I realized that I am in the right place. This is what I am supposed to do and what I want to continue doing. If these people, after everything they have experienced, are so open minded towards us, I want to give that back. I want to give my love and my time. I want to come back to meet these people again, hear more of their stories, see the babies that our students were expecting, hear how the labor went and hear the new words the children have learned in English. I want to show them that to me they are worth of everything, they are worth coming back for.

/With love and laughter, Inka

We all are children inside our delicate yet strong souls

The clowns went to Cox’s Bazar once more to salute the spirit of the Rohingya community. This time around we had to create a show that emphasised togetherness and sticking together to address the issue of child trafficking in the camp as it has been a big issue. We also worked with the play facilitators and child care workers who run play sessions every day for the children. As we walked through the camp and into the child friendly spaces, there were shouts of “Hello” and “How are you?” coming from rooftops and valleys. The curiosity in the faces of the children and play facilitators, the freedom to be human beings despite the hardships and the triumph of kindness over the hard realities of the communities in the camp gave me the feeling that I was indeed at the right place, at the right time. At the end of the day, the people there are no doubt one of the strongest people on earth, for they certainly know how to be resilient despite all the hardships.

The clown’s way is one where everyone is invited to live. Everyone is encouraged to be full human beings. So where is the meeting point? The clowns know exactly where that centre is. We all are children inside our delicate yet strong souls. As usual we meet within the magic of child spirit, where everyone is free to create, fail and recreate experiences.

Once more its thanks to clowns, and congratulations to the wonderful people of Bangladesh and the Rohingya. Eg Shate, together!

/Nicholas Mamba

A journey I will remeber for the rest of my life

I’m going to write about our journey to Bangladesh. This picture represents my gathered feeling about why we were there and the work we did. When I look at this picture, I see so many things. First of all, there is a game being played, with rules and a structure that everybody knows and follows. I also see all the hands together next to each other. Every single child plays a part in the common atmosphere created within the group, each little hand and every little finger. The whole aim for me personally was to extract everything that I believe in, in terms of creating a playful space and what it can do. I wanted to deliver my experience with the magic and wonders of playing. There is so much behind the simple games. When we create a safe space for playing games we also create a way to play a part in the community in a new way. We also create a way for children and adults to express themselves and therefore help them to find their own personalities. Some people might think it is silly to waste time on stupid games and songs. My opinion is the opposite. I believe that everybody should start the day with a game to loosen up and let go of where they came from and to settle in the space together. I have seen how effective it is and how well we work together if we get a chance to vibrate together before collaborating; to have eye contact, to touch each other, to use our voices and be in the ‘now’. It makes us ready and prepared to face challenges. The theme for this trip has been “together” or ‘ekshate’. I did not know this in the beginning, but I have been reminded throughout the weeks. When we boil down the big pot of work we are doing, and we end up with the strong concentrated flavor, I find togetherness, collaboration, open arms, direct impulses of laughter and presence. These things can make a change in a troubled group and even in a society.

We mostly worked with staff working in the Rohingya camps with the children and the families. Therefore, we had to send our message clearly, so nothing got lost or dropped between the fingers. In one week, we had to share everything we knew to help them in field. It was very intense, and I learn so many new things every time I work with new people. The group followed us straight from the beginning. It was so fantastic to see how much they trusted us and how willing they were to adapt to our way of thinking. Giving them tools to make children gather in a circle without shouting or physically moving them, and the courage to be silly and find their voice in a group of kids. It felt very special every time one of them said that they found another ‘tool’ that they are going to try in the camp. I left the workshop with a feeling that they now have a basket full of tools but also a new way of thinking in terms of solving problems. And they did not only discover new games and new ways of thinking. I think that the group also found each other. Some of them are so stressed because the missions they have on their plates are not easy tasks and it seems to be a never-ending project. A lot of the workshop was to give them relief and energy to keep up the amazing work. It always feels a bit strange to think that these people work in the camps every day. When we leave we go home and move on to the next project, but they are always there. I guess it’s part of the job. We enter with extreme intense energy to leave as much as possible and it is draining in one way, but in another way, we get so much back. I can’t wait to hear how our ways are being implemented and how their work is developing.

One strong memory I have is from the end of the workshop when the lovely Shermin told us that she has a new way of thinking about children. She cried when she said that she used to be so angry when they misbehaved and now she learnt there are many more ways to reach the children in a peaceful and playful way. I think that she was so brave to open up and admit her frustrations, and I could see pain in her eyes. I hope she found a piece of her own inner child and connected so much with the little girl Shermin that week. When she remembered how it was to be a child she had to put her anger to the side because when you understand something it’s easier to handle it without negative impulses.

It was not an easy week and the work environment was hard. We did our best to always stay positive and back each other up. We really made a great effort to deliver as much as possible in a short time. I will remember this journey for the rest of my life and it’s safe to say that they will too. Ekshate (togetherness) power! 

/Rebecca Seward