Bringing Laughter and Play to Refugee Children with Ash Perrin of The Flying Seagulls Project

Flying Seagulls

There are 65 million refugees around the world, over half of which are children according to UNHCR.

Many of these children will spend their entire childhood away from home. Some might be without their families, and many have experienced violence and insecurity (and continue to do so).

In exile, they are “at risk of abuse, neglect, violence, exploitation, trafficking or military recruitment.”

In the face of a polarizing political climate in those countries receiving refugees and migrants–where politicians hungry for votes on want to turn the refugee crisis into an opportunity to benefit from the politics of fear–what can we do?

Send in the clowns.

Literally.

In episode 21 of the Working Together Podcast, I interview Ash Perrin who, along with a rag tag group of fellow performers, works with widely varying groups–at orphanages, refugee camps, hospitals–to help bring smiles and happiness to people… through clowning.

They do this all through the Flying Seagulls Project.

The Flying Seagulls “believe that it is everyone, man, woman or child’s right to put aside the cares of life and smile for a while”. And they are clowns to the core for a good reason. As Ash puts it in our conversation, “the purpose of the clown is that a clown has no ego, and a clown represents the foolishness and the mockery of the human self. There’s no threat from the clown because they reveal their most foolish and flawed part.”

It turns out that the first thing to do if you want to help out people who are in a constant state of insecurity is to be non-threatening. And clowning around is the perfect way to do this, and create the foundation for living, being and working together.

The Flying Seagull Project has run their projects in 15 countries across the world, including in their homelands in the UK, across mainland Europe, in India, Cambodia and Ghana.

They’ve got a whole lot more planned, so if you can, please support their work here.

PS. This is the song that Ash references in his story about how he came to start the Flying Seagulls.


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