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Tsunami Victims Smile Again Thanks to NZ Clown

Tue, 1 Mar 2005

Tsunami Victims Smile Again Thanks to NZ Clown

A New Zealand clown is making a big impact in Indonesia, where he is helping children to laugh and smile – something rare for those affected by the devastating tsunami two months ago.

Thirty-year-old Aaron Ward, otherwise known as Elvo the Clown, has been putting a smile on the face of children at World Vision activity centres in Banda Aceh. The centres are designed to help children who are grieving the loss of homes, family and friends, to prevent them from being abandoned or trafficked.

"One doctor told me he was having trouble holding back the tears as he watched the children he had been dealing with for the past two months suddenly laughing and playing. Those sentiments have been repeated by many people who have watched the shows," Aaron said from Indonesia.

Aaron left for Indonesia two weeks ago, and says his role is to not only help children laugh again, but to help them through their grieving.

"It's about getting kids to realise the different stages in the grieving process – longing, anger, despair – are all okay. There's nothing wrong or strange about having those feelings."

It is the second time Aaron has used his talents to help children in dire need. In 1999 he went to the Balkans to entertain Albanian children living in refugee camps. He says helping traumatised children find some joy in life is the most satisfying work he has done.

"Kids have forgotten how to be kids in these situations. They need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, they need to be able to gain some normality, they need to laugh again," he says.

Aaron is not only making an impact on the children in Indonesia – the international media is also fascinated by his antics. The BBC, Associated Press, Reuters and Indonesian media have all shown interest in his work and some have attended his shows.


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