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Bringing Smiles to Emergency Areas

People affected by crisis, such as forcibly displaced persons, require special care. They are exposed to a lot of stress, and this affects the physical and mental health of both kids and adults. Often people in these situations receive the immediate aid to survive, but frequently their emotional and mental well-being is overlooked. RED NOSES Clowndoctors International is doing their best to change this.

By This is a guest letter from RED NOSES Clowndoctors International written for
Photo: RED NOSES International

Emergency Smile

RED NOSES' mission is to bring humour and joy to the people who need it the most and to let them reconnect with their positive emotions. Emergency Smile is the emergency response programme of RED NOSES International, and it sends specially trained healthcare clowns into areas of crisis. The aim is to to support children and their families and to help them deal with the stressful context and envision a better future. The artists have fun with children and their families through parades and in other joyful ways, and they use storytelling, magic tricks, acrobatics and humorous elements to engage with the children and families. The programme also includes Circus Smile, a five-day clown camp that teaches children juggling and magic tricks and in the end they perform a final show in front of their families. Emergency Smile also hosts workshops for professionals working in crisis settings.

In the field

In 2021, after the most acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, RED NOSES Clowndoctors International were finally able to go back to the field. The teams on the ground, could once again engage with the target groups in person and they experienced first-hand the impact of the prolonged lockdowns and other restrictions. This year, the international team of healthcare clowns have already been on several missions to refugee camps in Greece, Serbia and Kosovo, Moldova and to South Sudan. A mission to Ukraine was also planned, but due to the outbreak of war, the teams have had to focus their efforts on the children and parents who are seeking refuge in border countries, such as Moldova.

Mission in Lesvos, Greece

In close cooperation with other organizations in the area, the international team is bringing psychosocial support to the Lesvos-camp and its surroundings for eighteen weeks in 2022.

Medical areas and unaccompanied minors

One of the places that the team of clowns spent time in, was in the medical area inside the camp. Here the clowns could interact with the people waiting to be seen by medical professionals and reach both children, parents, medical staff and aid workers.
Another target group for the team was the unaccompanied minors. The team held Circus Smile workshops with unaccompanied minors (UAMs) in Iliaktida and IOM houses. Maria, a social worker from the unaccompanied minors house was very thankful for the visit.
- The children enjoyed it, interacted with you and learned various tricks. (…) Happiness, hope and optimism filled our hearts again, Maria told after the visit.

Humour relief workshops

During an Emergency Smile Mission, the team offer Humour Relief Workshops for aid workers, medical staff and volunteers working in crisis settings. These workshops demonstrate how humour can create a powerful emotional connection between people, enhance and stimulate social interactions, reduce stress and anxiety, and foster a better professional environment.

During the Lesvos missions the organisation have held workshops with multiple organisations, such as MSF, Eurorelief and most recently one with Fenix.


About Red Noses

Red Noses is an artistic and humanitarian organization engaging with different vulnerable groups (children in hospitals, children with disabilities, elderly people and children in crisis situations) through the art of clowning. The RNI office in Vienna is the headquarter for eleven RNI offices throughout Europe and the Middle East and is also responsible for implementing the Emergency Smile programme, which brings clowning to children in crisis situations around the world.

To find out more about their work & support the missions please visit:  and

Photo: RED NOSES International