The teacher in a remote school in the north of South Africa was in awe “The children have not laughed like that for a long time” she exclaimed, her eyes wide with surprise and her face radiating the pleasure of hearing everyone, from the smallest child to the toughest teenager, laugh heartily together. It was all the more poignant that the hilarious show delivered by the visiting team of clowns and theatre practitioners was promoting a number of very serious, practical, achievable life skills, health education and community development principles to strengthen the choices of the communities’ most vulnerable members.
One of the team who brought laughter and hope to South Africa’s suffering children is our Dutch born co-worker, Elizabeth Z. She has a tremendous gift. When we first met her we were impressed to see that gift in action. Elizabeth is a clown doctor currently working amongst children in the UK who have had their childhoods scarred or traumatised by sickness, disability, disease or abuse and fear. Her more technical title is Arts in Health Senior Practitioner. With her small red nose, a few silk handkerchiefs, a gentle smile and calming voice Elizabeth’s artistry is captivating for children who are safely drawn into her imaginary world filled with wonder and amazement, a world that sweetly finds the giggles in the most tired, most hurting little heart. We believe that Elizabeth is a master of her craft. During her tour with the team in South Africa early this year more than 13,000 children were reached with the important messages of how to stay safe from HIV/Aids and how to make safe choices for their vulnerable lives. Schools eagerly adopted the learning materials that accompanied the educational show, opening new pathways for discussion and development within communities that have suffered the scars of ignorance, inequality and cultural superstition.
In March 2015 Elizabeth plans to return to South Africa for 3 months at the invitation of Zisize Educational Trust, a local organisation who recognise her skills would be of developmental benefit to their people. She will deliver Life-skills Education to groups, training centres, remote villages, schools and especially to those who will be able to train others. Life-skills Education aims to develop thinking and decision-making, empowering young people facing lives blighted by HIV/Aids, adolescent pregnancy, abuse, bullying and absence of parental support. Elizabeth will facilitate the arts based Life Skills Club, using her gifts and abilities with groups, discussion, theatre and drama, story-telling, art and clown workshops, training local people and teachers to inspire their own communities.
At PovertySwap we have frequently seen that the person who says “Here I am, I care, I will go to help if I can” is a rather special person. Elizabeth is no exception to that. Usually they are very ordinary, but people who will step out of their own comfortable world for the sake of a dream that it might just make a difference for someone in need. We exist to encourage such a person and support them in the best way we can. We love to help them do the povertyswap.
We are therefore opening our fund “Laughter in South Africa” to be able to facilitate this gifted young woman to make a powerful povertyswap amongst South Africa’s most desperate communities. It is a small start but as we have seen throughout our 4 years of operation such a seed planted well impacts communities, indeed nations, in ways beyond our wildest imaginations.
Will you believe with us for miracles in South Africa? Elizabeth needs £3000 to fund her 3 month trip. PovertySwap friends are incredibly generous donors and as always 100% of every donation will be given directly to Elizabeth for her work with vulnerable children in South Africa.
Contact us if you are able to make a donation, have a fundraising idea or want to give regular support. Please share this story with your friends from every country……..there are caring generous hearts everywhere. Let’s make South Africa ring with laughter and the hope of life. Thank you so much.