11 October, Clowning in hospitals, Cusco, Peru
Today I woke up and got dressed as a clown and went to the Hospital Regional and the children’s special needs hospital. I had arranged to give a presentation on clowning and emotional intelligence.
I met with Rolando and Candy. Rolando had wanted to be a clown a week ago and had seen the movie of Patch Adams 6 months ago. He said to me he had prayed for a way to serve society and then I walked into his life. So fate yet again. So they both met at the hospital and Rolando told me that the PR guy had a meeting and he didn’t unlock the room for a presentation and there was no-one invited as prearranged. Peruvians I have found are like this they don’t commit to things and don’t seem to have an understanding of how the other person is inconvenienced. The fact that he is PR amazed me. This was a great opportunity but clearly he is not trained in this area.
Anyway Rolando and I organized with a female staff member to go around some wards. I dressed up Rolando and realized I forgot the make up, so his wife and myself tried to make him look like a clown. I showed him a few techniques and explained that you mustn’t rush into a persons space. You have to check their eyes to see how they feel and you carefully enter their space. If they look scared you back off very quickly. I showed him some clown moves, funny walks, waving, saying mama with open arms, hiding behind things etc.
So off we went diving head first into his first experience. He said I will watch you and copy. So I firstly played with some children and hugged the adults. I try to include the adults as they are also in need of love. So I then went into a child’s ward and started to pull things out of my bag. What I do is use my juggling balls and do a little show, then my clubs and rings. I go around making out I am a doctor and looking for a heart or a funny bone. I throw my rubber fluffy ball to people to gain their involvement to have a bit of fun. I will ham around with my clown buddy throwing balls at him, dancing in a circle, or playing with my twirling ribbon. I use this and pretend I am fishing. Usually a patient will hold the end and I will pull it and do tug of war. I always smile into their eyes and blow kisses. The nurses may get involved to and I may gently bump them to involve them. I exaggerate and go whooo sorry. I have a chicken that lays an egg and I may fly it over to someone and then squeeze the egg out. I also have a little poo which I may put on their plate of food and then complain that this is terrible. I then pretend to eat it, kids love that. Then I stretch it to show it is not real. I also have a banana which I treat as a cell phone and say mama is on the phone and they play along. I pull out my puppet and give kisses and I have a have my love glasses which I put on people. I always make out when I put them on that suddenly I am in love ‘amour’. It is wonderful fun and I so enjoy seeing their smiles.
We had a wonderful time and the staff were really friendly. I found in Australia some staff can be friendly but there is a greater impatience as staff are stressed and probably feeling serious. I try to incorporate staff as they need love to and to showe them they can have a little light relief. In Ireland they wouldn’t let us interact with staff, I couldn’t do that as my modus operandi is to include everyone.
My friend Rolando had a great time and he told me later it was a great experience, one he won’t forget, he really loved being a clown and he wanted us to keep in touch. He was grateful for meeting me and he felt very happy.
After clowning and lots of laughs we went for lunch. We debriefed over lunch and talked about some of the situations we experienced. We had fun throwing a ball around the room with some adult men, another child didn’t want to give my squashy tomato back so I had to gently distract her so it is not pulled off her, just quickly acquired. You have to be very gently or they may get upset. A few children cried and I told Rolando that it would be because he is big and a man and they may have got a fright. Every child is different some are very curious, others get frightened very easily so you have to be very careful. The little kids warm up after a while and then they get confident. It was funny to clown with the nurse, I gave her a massage and I made noises ooh lala and she danced around then and we had a good laugh together. It is so good for nurses. Met a few doctors as well and they were happy to see us. Often I find that the medical profession look upon positivity and humour as just entertainment, they don’t realise the healing properties of feeling good about yourself and believing in life. I believe in the power of positive thinking and I agree with Dr Emoto’s work that when you direct your intention positively or negatively you either promote healthy cells (symmetrical) or unhealthy breakdown (asymmetrical). I think people should be exposed to as much positivity as possible. I would have liked to have informed the doctors about emotional intelligence but it was not to be. We had fun anyway. My friend was not impressed and explained to me he prefers to work with foreigners as when they say they will do something they do. He said he liked Australians and had met them before, he found them good people. I have found the reputation of Australians is often very good and people are often very happy.
Rolando and Candy took me to the children’s hospital by taxi and took me to the room. I met the head nurse and she was really thrilled I came. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do and how to bridge the cultural barrier. So I do what I usually do just make it up as I go. So I asked the nurse if she could introduce me and tell the kids I am from Australia. I turned the music down and then I clowned a bit with them. I showed them my props one by one. I did some juggling in the centre and made out I was wobbly on my feet. I then pulled out my rings and juggled them high, the kids loved it. On one occasion I juggled then sat on a child’s knee, very lightly as they are in wheelchairs. I then pulled out my ribbon and danced for them. I brought out my bubbles which kids find fascinating and went round the room blowing the magic around them. Children see differently to adults, so adults just see bubbles children see magic. I also went around and gently tugged on cheeks and gentle held their faces as I wished to look into every face and make a connection. They were delightful and innocent and over the 30-40 minute session they were more confident. I had them clapping whilst I juggled so that created some sense of unity. I put on my flashing nose for the first time, but do find it hard to see beyond it. There are practical limitations but the kids respond to the flashing light. One little girl was a personality, she danced in front of me. I think she may have had cerebal palsy. Another raced up to me in her wheel chair and was following me. She also had a crazy laugh so I mimicked her and she screamed louder and louder, she was having so much fun and I was too. I saw one kid yawn so I exaggerated a yawn then lay on the floor and snored loudly they all laughed. Other kids had mental disability and dribbled. I am not put off by that at all. I don’t see the disability I see into the heart and I am only interested to bring joy to these kids. One kid was funny as he tried to stick my huge dummy in his mouth. He dribbled all over it and I just laughed.
One part towards the end I found really funny. The kids new I was leaving and many of them wheeled their wheel chairs around me. Some kids grabbed their chairs reversed them like walkers and pushed their chairs to be able to stand up and came towards me. I was surrounded by reversed chairs and wheel chairs, so I played chasey with them. Kids are all the same around the world. They love to chase clowns. Some held my dummy tightly and didn’t want me to go. Another grabbed my bag and refused to let go. And another grabbed my jumper or the back of my clown suit. They were telling me don’t go. I so feel them. The staff were very happy and had a good laugh at their kids. There was one child who cried a lot during the show but I was able to break through with the bubbles, she stopped and then later I touched her face and she didn’t cry. These are breakthrough moments that make life worth being alive.
It was such a joy to be with them and it is myself that feels the privilege. I extracted myself smiling as I left. People smiled back as clowns are not usual here. I walked out of the hospital and the head nurse/psychologist came after me smiling. She thanked me so much for coming. She was so happy that I came and wanted me to come back on Thursday for the National Day for Disability. I explained to her that we have ads in Australia that have a disabled person slurring their words, then speeding it up so that they are speaking normally and barracking for a team, it is to help people to see that they are like everyone else and have their own passions. It is to look beyond the disability and see the person. She told me she doesn’t see disability at all. I said that is because you are loving them. When I clown I don’t see culture as I am only interested in humanity. She felt the same way. that is the power of love, there is no them and us, there is only us, in unity. We took a photo together and she was very loving towards me giving me a kiss and a hug. For me it is a pleasure to be of service.
It was truly a wonderful day. I was deeply happy.
Now I am off to Bolivia and feeling great. So the next adventure teaching in schools, is about to start.
A Peacefull clown