My name is Marleen van Os and I come from Gouda in the Netherlands. I have been a counselor for people with multiple disabilities for 15 years. With that experience in healthcare I started doing courses for clowning. And in 2010 I finished my education as a clown in Amsterdam.
Some call me a contact-clown, visiting people who are severly disabled or suffer from dementia. Breaking through the walls and being able to really make contact with them.
But the humanitarian aspect is also very important. Bringing humanity to places where people lost everything. Their belongings, family, faith and there sence of self. Really seeing another person is one of the magical things a clown can do. The confidence of children can grow, even if they live in a refugeecamp or an orphanige.
An amazing aspect of clowning is it doesn’t need any language. The clown is an international charactar. And walking into a door is funny, where ever you are from.
In 2009 I started doing humanitarian clowntrips with doctor Patch Adams and his Gesundheit! Institute! First to Costa Rica, but in 2010 I lost my heart to Russia and its people and have been going ever since.
Every year in November I join Patch and 25 other clowns from all over the globe for 2 weeks in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We visit orphaniges, disabled kids, hospitals, elderly, homeless and even hospices. The clowns bring joy where ever they go. Even in the streets, as they travel in costume. But laughter isn’t the main goal of the modern clown. Connection is. Sometimes it brings laughter, sometimes tears or wonder. The clown is a friend, and friends respect eachother.
In Russia we work closely with a Russian organisation; Maria’s children. They support the children throughout the year teaching them skills and providing an outlet through art. The children anticipate our visit every year and after we leave they talk about it for weeks. The clown sees them truly as they are and joins them in their games. And that boost their confidence. For many children it is the only special activity in the whole year.
I have seen mothers cry, because it’s so hard to watch your child suffer. And when they find relief, even if it is just for a moment it brings so much joy.
Teachers and caregivers where amazed when kids with a disabillaty where stimulated in a different way and showed abillaties they never thought where possible. I am very grateful that I am able to show them the person behind the disabillity.
The ripple effect. We throw pebbles and don’t know how far the ripple goes. We don’t know how much impact we have as clowns. But sometimes it is more then we can see.
In a refugeecamp I met a young boy named Achmed. When I came back a day later, I called him over by his name. He came up to me and was amazed; you remembered my name!
Being seen is so important for children. A small gesture can have a big impact on the confidence. The clown is a friend, especially for those in need.
In St. Petersburg hospital a girl had to stay there for a long time. Years. When the clowns came, she loved it, but couldn’t comunicate with them, as she only spoke Russian and the clowns only spoke English. So she decided the learn English so she could speak to them the next year. She did and improved her chances for later in life. Better Oppertunaties in school and in her career, all because of the clowns.
Learning skills like juggling or doing physical theatre games are also part of the visits. It helps dealing with emotions in a playfull way. it is a good way to deal with energy and builds confidence. The faces of some children when they are finally able to juggle. Priceless.
As a clown I can be a friend for everyone I meet, no matter what their background is. When I go into a hospitalroom with music, bubbles or a trick, it is not only a gift for the children, but also for their parents. In the refugeecamps there are many children and not always enough voulenteers, so a visit of a clown can brighten up their week! The magic we bring let them forget the dark situation that they are in.
Besides Russia, clown Pluk has visited Costa Rica, Armenia, Lebanon and the refugeecamps in Greece and France. All these trips are voulenteerwork and we could really use your help. We share our time, energy and love. Please support us finacially.
Please donate to IBAN account: NL44RABO0119849747 to Stichting Clownszaken.
You can also Paypal to make a donation.
With all that experience, I also teach different workshops. The level of experience for the people who join can vary. The lenght of the workshops can be a day to a week. If you are interested in organizing a workshop in your area, Please contact me. Languages spoken are Dutch or English.
Childrens workshop: a variaty of skills to find joy in selfexpression, grow confidence. Clown, juggling and mime.
Clowning I: basic clown skills. How do carry yourself on stage. How do you play together with a partner.
Find your inner clown: Who is your clown character? How do you develope a clown character?
Humanitarian clowning: How to clown in difficult situation and how to deal with them in a playfull way.