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Clowning around in a time of war

Published on Jun 3, 2014 1:11 PM

LEBANON (REUTERS) - Does aid work always have to be serious? Do you have to be a doctor working on the frontline or an aid worker distributing food to refugees?

Mr David Clay, a clown from Oregon, thinks not. Once a construction worker, Mr Clay now volunteers for Clowns Without Borders, an international non-profit organisation that uses laughter to relieve suffering among children in refugee camps, conflict zones and natural disaster areas.

On Monday, Mr Clay dressed up in his navy blue suit, crooked black hat and a polka dot tie to entertain 200 Syrian refugee children who are now living in neighbouring Lebanon. The tiny Mediterranean country hosts one million refugees, who have fled cluster bombs, chemical weapons and al-Qaeda militants in a war that has killed more than 160,000 in three years.

Lebanon has not allowed official refugee camps, so many families live in unfinished buildings and wooden shacks. Mr Clay, along with three other clowns - another American, a Chilean and Lebanese - juggled, played instruments and acted like buffoons for the children, who first appeared withdrawn but started to cheer and clap as the performance unfolded.

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