Magazine article Newsweek

Clowns: The Best Medicine?

Magazine article Newsweek

Clowns: The Best Medicine?

Article excerpt

Byline: Alexandra Silver

You'd expect most aid workers to arrive in Africa with food and antibiotics. But when Jamie Lachman heads there this fall, he'll be packing a ukulele and a horn. In growing numbers, clowns are crossing borders just like doctors, taking big red noses instead of little black bags. They're not as famous as the Live 8 musicians, but they share a commitment to trying to change conditions in Africa. The clowns are seeking to patch up emotional wounds rather than physical ones--and on that point they are serious. "[We want] to bring laughter to communities," Lachman says. "Our real goal is for the capacity for celebration to continue long after we're gone."

This year the American branch of Clowns Without Borders, which has been making these kinds of trips since 1996, is taking its organization one oversize step forward. It is embarking on a new initiative, Project Njabulo ("joy" in Zulu), which is intended to have a more lasting effect than past trips. …

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