Children in the Zataari Refugee Camp in Jordan had something to smile about. Five European comedians from Mabsutins, a private circus, and a clown group from Spain performed for them for more than an hour. It was an unprecedented gesture, one that put smiles on hundreds of little children who are currently living as refugees on the other side of the Syrian border.
The Zatari refugee camp in Jordan is just on the border with Syria. More than a camp, it’s an entire city. In late 2011, it consisted of about 15,000 refugees. That number has now surged to over 130,000 and is increasing every day. The influx of refugees is so high that the camp has expanded beyond its capacity in terms of space and refugees are forced to live in tents on the outskirts.
More than 50% of the refugee population at Zataari is under 18 years of age. That is a large number of children and teenagers in one camp. Some of them do not have parents or legal guardians. Some lost their parents to violence and bloodshed in the crisis that has been engulfing Syria for almost three years now. The rest are orphans since they can remember with no one to look after them. It is a dire situation and a new day only reminds them of the hardships that lay ahead.
In times like these, this rare circus performance brought smiles all around and garnered genuine praise and admiration from everyone.
“I am very happy they came here.” says Ahmed speaking in Arabic. “They were very funny. I laughed the whole time!”
The event organisers, Mabsutins, were equally happy saying this will not be their last visit to the camp. They vowed to continue performing for the children in the future, hoping to return at another date in the coming months.
Even though the event was a huge success, everyone witnessed a sobering scene once it was over. Reality took over for the children. They got one hour of happiness in their lives. Afterwards, it was yet another painful reminder that they are refugees with no place to go. We can do more for the people of Syria to make sure more companies like Mabsutins visit the camp and offer many more opportunities for these children to have fun and share a laugh as they struggle to hope of a better future living in these tough conditions. Donate to Muslim Aid’s Syria Relief Aid campaign and do your part.