Blogginlägg om 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

The best and worst of humanity

“You’ve seen the best and worst of humanity, haven’t you?” Such simple yet true words spoken by a friend’s father on seeing me, freshly home from Bangladesh. It captures the essence of Clowns Without Borders work, which takes us into crisis zones, but also into the resilient hearts and spirits of the communities there where we experience some of life’s greatest paradoxes.

Working in conflict zones, like Myanmar, we get to see what some humans do to other humans out of fear and ignorance.  We see disconnection, delusion and hypocrisy. We see how humans strip other humans of their basic human rights, like freedom and identity. Where, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, there is no future without forgiveness. But working in refugee camps, like those in Bangladesh, we also see human kindness. We see what humans do for other humans, out of love and compassionate service. We see communities brought together, working as one, and people coming from all over to provide emotional, physical and mental relief. We see how meaningful that is for a community like the Rohingya who have felt so unseen and forgotten by the world, but are now receiving the urgent attention they need. On a larger scale, this duality reminds me of the Cherokee story about the great battle of the two wolves that live inside of us; the wolf of fear, anger, greed and the wolf of love, joy, hope. When the young boy asks the elder which one will win, he says, ‘The one you feed”. Our work, like the many other NGOs working in these areas, is to witness both wolves but to feed the second one.

Another paradox, which Khalil Gibran expresses so beautifully, is that, “the deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”. It is a deeply humbling experience to witness the shining eyes and laughter of a community in crisis. And the smallest things create the greatest joys. Like bubbles and kites, which lift the eyes and the spirits too. Like the bubble that gets away and floats higher and higher. Everyone is watching it, breathing together, with a mind free of thoughts and sorrows. Everyone is on the same team wishing for it to float just a little bit longer, a little bit higher. And then the inevitable moment when it pops. A collective outbreath and then back to earth, back to reality. But something about that small moment of dreaming and hoping together, lingers on. It is a big small moment.

We look for the small and make it big. We look for the smallest children, the ones being pushed to the side, unseen. We see them, play with them, cherish them, and make them the heroes. We celebrate the big small successes, like the moment a young Rohingya girl volunteered to be in the show instead of only boys or the moment the community decided the adolescent girls could attend the show too. I couldn't do this work if I didn't believe in the power of the small and the power of a moment. Like the power of someone who sees you in your most vulnerable and still loves you. Someone who sees you as a survivor, not a victim. Someone who sees your beauty and strength despite your circumstances. There’s something about these moments that reach deep inside and enable you to access resources you didn't know you had left. Like a smile or a laugh. It can be some of the biggest small moments of your life. It can be pure medicine.

Despite the duality and paradoxes of the situations we enter into, the place where the clowns and the community meet is like Rumi’s field, ‘out beyond ideas of right doing and wrongdoing’. In that field, ‘when the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about’. Only the sound of laughter can be heard… 

/Annabel Morgan