Adele Raemer
Life on the Border with the Gaza Strip

Fighting for the Smile

Sometimes we get to pick our own battles. Other times we don’t get that luxury. And yet we still get to choose how we’re going to fight. One of my weapons for this current battle is staying at home as much as possible to distance myself from my friends, my family and my tight-knit community. The hardest part is probably not hugging my grandchildren. I am quite happy working from home, and also spending quality time learning Photoshop (something I have been meaning to do for a few years now). At the request of one of my daughters, I have begun doing “English with Mema”, ZOOM lessons for my grandkids and I try to keep up a routine of yoga and taking walks in the fresh air of the kibbutz, which is still an option.

But another weapon I have chosen for my battle against Corona is to fight it with a smile. As a trained medical clown I can usually go into hospital rooms armed with my red nose, awesome magic tricks and a bunch of balloons. However, the hospitals have closed their doors to us since the start of this war, rendering us feeling that even though we still have much to give, we have had our hands (and noses) put in a bind. Thankfully, I discovered a means to scratch that itch.

Medical clowns David Ben Porat and Meitav Zohar (a student training in special education) have set up a venture for volunteer clowns: “Medical Clowns Fight for the Smile.” 100 medical clowns from all over the country have been participating in this initiative. Through Whatsapp groups, calls are sent out as they come in: “A 13 year old special needs child needs a laugh! She loves unicorns and dancing. Who’s free to call her?” or “Yossi from Modiin is celebrating his 70th birthday alone, who can make a clip to send him?” and so on. On the average, the volunteers churn out 300 video and zoom calls a day. The range of “clients” include the elderly on their own at home or in nursing homes, children and adults with special needs and disabilities, children and adults suffering from anxiety, forced to remain in solitary confinement, Corona patients, boarding school children, children in welfare programs, kids whose birthday parties have been canceled and others. All done for free, of course, because everyone knows, when you help someone in need, you get back what you give tenfold. It’s called Karma 🙂

My grandchildren’s playroom, happily located in my home and which is no longer in use for the duration, has become my clown dressing room with all of the paraphernalia ready to roll when I get a call. Since I am still working and actually pretty occupied most of the time, my favorite missions involve making clips rather than live ZOOMs or Whatsapp video calls. This allows me to record them at my convenience sometime during the day, getting clowned up only once, and sending them back to David or Meitav, who send them to those for whom they are intended. But with 100 of us “on call”, our leaders always manage to find a clown ready to meet the request.

Most people’s noses are covered these days – with the masks we need to wear to protect ourselves and others. Our clown noses, however, are a commodity we wear with pride.

If you live in Israel, and are in need of a smile for your soul, (or know someone else in need), find us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/clownsmileforu/

About the Author
Born in the USA, Adele has lived in a Kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip since 1975. She is a mother and a grandmother living and raising her family on the usually paradisaical, sometimes hellishly volatile border. She is affiliated with "The Movement for the Future of the Western Negev", and "Achdut Im Hadarom" for sanity's sake. She also moderates a FB group named "Life on the Border". https://goo.gl/xcwZT1 Adele is a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, as well as a teacher trainer and counselor for the Israeli MoE for EFL and Digital Pedagogy. She blogs here about both Life on the Border, as well as about digital pedagogy, in "Digitally yours, @dele". She has recently become a devoted YouTuber on the topic of digital stuff. (https://goo.gl/iBVMEG) Her personal channel covers other issues close to her heart (medical clowning, Life on the Border, etc.) (https://goo.gl/uLP6D3) In addition, she is a trained medical clown and, as any southern clown would do, clowns as often as she can in the pediatric ward in the hospital in Ashkelon. She was recently included among the Haaretz "Ten Jewish Faces who made Waves in 2018" https://goo.gl/UrjCNB.
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