THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Bringing laughter to traumatised children

BANGLADESH: The Rohingya boys and girls shrieked with delight as the clowns juggled hoops and somersaulted, their red-nosed antics provoking a sound rarely heard in the world’s largest refugee camp – children's laughter.

crimeMyanmarimmigrationviolencesexhealthdeathhumor
By AFP

Sunday 5 November 2017, 10:00AM


Theatre groups in Bangladesh have a record of using 'drama therapy' to lift spirits in the most depressing of circumstances. Photo: Tauseef Mustafa / AFP

Theatre groups in Bangladesh have a record of using 'drama therapy' to lift spirits in the most depressing of circumstances. Photo: Tauseef Mustafa / AFP

The clowns have been providing much-needed levity in the crowded Bangladesh camps, where hundreds of thousands of traumatised Rohingya children spend long days in bleak and difficult conditions.

Mohammad Noor lives with his mother and three siblings in a makeshift shanty in the teeming Kutupalong camp, where a lack of food and water means a constant struggle to survive.

The 10-year-old fled Myanmar in October after his father was killed in brutal violence by the army that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing.

The impromptu circus in a dusty clearing is a welcome distraction from the horror at home.

“It is hilarious. I have never seen anything like it. My friends and I were just laughing and laughing,” he said, as a quartet of painted clowns performed skits before a huge gathered crowd.

Theatre groups in Bangladesh have a record of using “drama therapy” to lift spirits in the most depressing of circumstances.

One troupe performed for the survivors of a factory collapse in 2013 that killed 1,100 garment workers, while another hosted shows in a small village in Bangladesh’s south that lost nearly 50 children in a tragic road accident.

In the Rohingya camps, where many lie sick or injured mourning the death of family and loss of their homelands, laughter is sorely needed.

“Our sole aim is to bring laughter to the Rohingya,” said Rina Akter Putul, a veteran acrobat and the lone female member of the group.

“Making people laugh is a tough job, especially for those who lost their parents in the conflict.”

The UN estimates 60% of the more than 600,000 refugees to arrive in Bangladesh since late August are children.

Many crossed the border alone from their villages in Myanmar’s westernmost Rakhine State after their parents were murdered and communities driven out by state-sanctioned violence.

Splash Beach Club

Charities on the ground say children are in dire need of emotional and mental support after enduring such trauma on their difficult journeys.

“I am sure our show will live in their memory for some time. It won’t erase their scars, but it will boost their confidence,” said Faker Ali, an acrobat who has worked in drama therapy for more than two decades.

But it’s not just the children who benefit from the visiting performers.

Among the spectators who flocked to a recent show were countless elderly Rohingya refugees, clapping and smiling as the acrobats whirred rings and bars.

Life has been a gruelling quest to survive for older generations of the stateless Muslim minority. Many have escaped past pogroms in Rakhine and lost family and friends in bitter cycles of ethnic violence.

Rohingya are a reviled minority in Myanmar and are denied citizenship, education and opportunity by the Buddhist-majority government that regards them as illegal outsiders.

Most have enjoyed few if any luxuries in their lives – making the circus performance all the more thrilling.

“We hardly have any fun,” said Nesar Ahmed, 38. Even during major Islamic festivals and weddings, there is little in the way of entertainment, he added.

“Life in Arakan (Rakhine) is grim,” Khairul Amin, a 63-year-old grandfather, said as a boisterous crowd, young and old, jostled to meet the visiting clowns.

“There is no television and no cinema or theatre. And there is this constant fear you’ll be killed or arrested by the military.”

Seated for the show with her youngest child on her lap, Rehana smiled and laughed, saying: “Never in my life have I seen such fun.”

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Tour boats blamed for widespread reef damage

Timo hit the nail on the head, and all the warnings of environmental degradation continuously fall o...(Read More)


Chinese Consul General meets Phuket Governor to discuss tourist safety

"“I am very happy to hear that the Thai government has made the safety of Chinese tourists a ...(Read More)


Governor pushes water-shortage solutions

"“We will not charge residents any costs for emergency water provdied,” the governor assure...(Read More)


Welcoming HMAS Canberra: Australian Navy head to Phuket for training and community activities

"Pascale one wonders why the cereal(sic) is allowed. Emails to the Editor get no reply. I think...(Read More)


Welcoming HMAS Canberra: Australian Navy head to Phuket for training and community activities

"talking is so much easier.Always the same," hope to see you there, getting your hands dir...(Read More)


Army starts rolling in emergency water supply to Phuket

"Col Santi explained, “Lt Gen Pornsak learned that local residents in Phuket were now in trou...(Read More)


Hunted seastead couple ‘traced to Tarutao’

Fake news by thai authorities. The US-Thai couple didn't build, tugged, and anchored the floati...(Read More)


Army starts rolling in emergency water supply to Phuket

I thought the Gov said there was NO drought so why is the Army turning up with water tankers. Don...(Read More)


Army starts rolling in emergency water supply to Phuket

Finally army has taken over from a governor who still denies there is a water crisis on Phuket. Besi...(Read More)


Mains water supply outage announced

Interesting mental output at 5.16. Fascinating with all those dots and half finished sentences,but w...(Read More)