Red Noses Jordan – the healing power of laughter

Jean Claude Elias
Jean-Claude Elias is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years. (Photo: Jordan News)
The benefits, the power, and the therapeutic effects of laughter, smile, and humor, can never be overestimated. Especially when they are elicited systematically, methodically, and with genuine kindness by the professional, good-hearted clowns of Red Noses Jordan (RNJO).اضافة اعلان

For more than 40 years now, natural methods to help and relieve those who must undergo medical operations or even simple treatment, whether out-patients or hospital patients, have been experimented, most of the time with a high success rate. This is particularly true for those who are psychologically vulnerable, like the very young or the elderly.

Sophrology, for example, the relaxation method that uses music, among other means, often enables women to deliver without any kind of medication at all.

Laughter, simpler, more direct, more spontaneous, is also effective and can be brought to everyone, regardless of age, gender, or condition.

This is the very concept behind Red Noses Jordan, the branch office of Red Noses International (RNI), a non-profit organization founded by Monica Culen and Giora Seeliger and based in Vienna, Austria. Along with Red Noses in Palestine, which has a longer history, RNJO is the only other branch office of RNI in the region.

Dara Madanat, RNJO director, told Jordan News: “We call ourselves professional clowns. We touch the soul.” She also introduced Lna Dahdal, the artistic director and herself an active member of the clowns’ team. Madanat’s tone during the interview clearly conveyed the sincere and warm humanitarian commitment and the strong motivation behind the endeavor.

By making patients laugh, by bringing an instinctive smile to their faces, the clowns of RNJO are able to remove most of the psychological stress and fears. The benefit is double: it makes patients accept the treatment and the medicine more easily, and it acts as a very effective and natural therapy.

The beneficiaries are not just hospital patients. They can be children with disabilities, elderly people anywhere, refugees, homes, centers, societies, and others. In addition to patients, the clowns also interact with their nurses, doctors, and caregivers. They also often intervene in “disaster relief” situations.

RNJO clowns are paid for the work they do, but the beneficiaries are not charged for the service.

“During the severe COVID lockdown, the clowns made 1,800 visits to a total of 14,000 beneficiaries,” Madanat said.

The clowns are carefully selected and receive an intense 5-month training. In addition to acting, they study geriatrics and psychology over a curriculum that takes 480 hours. This enables them to improvise and react in the best way with the beneficiaries.

“There is no prepared or strict show there – this would not work,” said Madanat. At present the team includes nine clowns, both men and women, and is expected to grow.

Madanat also said that because of the stressful situations they have to face in the course of their work, the clowns themselves are offered psychological therapy and help: “RNJO have an agreement with a psychologist that clowns visit regularly to destress if ever needed, given the cases they encounter with the beneficiaries.”

Madanat also spoke about the interesting focus RNJO is putting on the south of Jordan: “This is still not clear, as we are waiting for funds to work with (people with) disabilities in the south, but now we have ‘Circus Smile’ missions in Tafileh and Beida. It is a 4-day circus-like and clowning workshop conducted by Red Noses Jordan clowns for children who are affected by crises, mainly refugees. The purpose of this program is to empower and positively enhance the lives of young individuals in these areas. Two to three clowns provide a workshop for four days where children learn clown pieces, magic tricks, juggling, and are prepared to perform what they have learned in front of an audience. On the final day, caregivers and parents are invited to the final performance where their child is the star of the show.”

RNJO also interact with several other humanitarian organizations, including Save the Children, Caritas, UNHCR, Doctors without Borders, SOS Villages, and Ruwwad.

RNJO started its activities in 2014, and was registered at the Ministry of Culture in 2017. In 2020, it became a full-time operation.“Minister of Social Development Ayman Mufleh is pushing and helping us a lot,” said Madanat.

RNI has 11 branches in Europe.

The writer is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.

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