When the four Caring Clowns International clowns arrived at the Instituto de Salud del Niño San Borja (Children’s Hospital) in Lima, Peru on the first day of their 10 day medical mission they were introduced to David Mata. David is the hospital’s photographer and video editor, part of the hospital’s communications office. He was a tremendous asset, helping CoCo, Flora, Duffy and Rose more easily find their way around the hospital and gaining access into each department. And, it helped that he spoke wonderful English, another “gift” for the four non-Spanish speaking clowns who would have struggled on their own in the large 700-bed hospital.
Very quickly, the four clowns learned that their escort was more than an expert guide. He was a very talented and gifted photographer….and a clown himself!!
David’s “career” as a clown began in 2010, when as a volunteer he was visiting the hospital and saw hospital clowns. “From that moment,” he said, “I wanted to be a hospital clown” and “Poyoyo” (or Dr. Poyoyo when in smock) was born.
Poyoyo founded 3.16 Payasos de hospital (loosely translated as 3.16 Hospital Clowns) which is run through his church, Biblical Church Emmanuel. In addition to the Children’s Hospital, the group regularly visits hostels, nursing homes and another hospital in Lima.
Poyoyo also teaches a clown workshop, the most recent one scheduled for next month where they are hoping to add to their 15-member organization. Aspiring clowns must complete a 10 class workshop, held every Saturday over 2 ½ months.
CoCo, Flora, Duffy and Rose immediately established a bond with the young and talented Poyoyo. “His photos were exceptional and really captured our connection with the children at the hospital,” said Caring Clowns International Jed “Duffy” Selter, President of the organization. “While everyone else was taking very staged and posed photos with their cell phones, David found interesting angles and moments with that Nikon of his.”
The four clowns’ only disappointment was that they were unable to participate in David’s surprise engagement event being held the day after they were flying back to the States. David arranged a surprise proposal to his girlfriend Jenna “Pepa”. The proposal was held on the steps of the Children’s Hospital immediately following the group’s visit there on January 22.
The rest of the 3.16 Hospital Clowns were “in” on the surprise as David flipped through a series of hand-written and romantic hand-drawn flip cards conveying his love for his future bride to be.
“We are very indebted to David for not only helping guide us to the various departments within the hospital but for his sense of humor, and his unique gift of capturing amazing photos of us with the children and their families,” said Duffy. Caring Clowns International gave Poyoyo balloons, pumps, red noses and other supplies to help in next month’s workshop and made him an honorary member of Caring Clowns International.
“We sincerely hope that he’s with the hospital again next year when we return,” said Duffy. “He’ll be a friend for life and we wish him and Jenna (Poyoyo’s fiancee) ) a lifetime of happiness and happy clowning. We welcome them both as members of our Caring Clowns International family.”
Caring Clowns International distributed Beanie Babies and hand-made hats while the clowns were on a 10-day medical mission to Lima, Peru.
The pristine Beanie Babies came to us via an interesting connection. Shirley and Darrel Wood brought their collection of Beanie Babies into the Olde Central Antique Mall in Port Orchard, Washington hoping to sell their large collection. Unfortunately, the market for Beanie Babies has declined. But fortunately, the owner knew Caring Clowns International member Sheila “Sparkles” Walters and the volunteer work she does in the community.
Sparkles shared with the couple that her church was planning “Operation Christmas Child” where shoeboxes are filled with useful items and toys and sent to children around the world. And, she shared information about Caring Clowns International’s upcoming medical mission to Peru.
The couple graciously donated their collection and soon Sparkles’ car was filled with sacks of Beanie Babies!!! She took half of the toys to her church and saved the other half for Caring Clowns International.
The Wood’s were happy to have found a good home for the Beanie Babies.
Children also received hand-made hats made by Kathy-Ann Martin, whose Aunt is Lois “CoCo” Kerr, member and co-founder of Caring Clowns International. Kathy-Ann started making these colorful yarn hats five years ago as part of a project with her church. In the past five years, she has made and distributed over 3,000 hats to the homeless and various missions.
Knowing that her Aunt was travelling to the children’s hospital in Lima, Peru, Kathy-Ann made over 100 colorful hats. They filled one full suitcase. The children and their parents at the hospital were delighted with the gift.
“Kathy-Ann was tickled pink to see the photos and how much the kids enjoyed the hats,” CoCo said.
On January 21, 2017, laughter and fun filled the Naval Base Kitsap gymnasium in Bremerton for the USS Nimitz Kids’ Holiday Party. Over 100 families were at the party which had been postponed due to the USS Nimitz being deployed during the holidays.
Caring Clowns International clowns Flossy, Jelly Bean, Selfie and Scooter were “on duty” to make their unique merriment at this special event. Over the course of the five hours that they were there, some of the parents shared what having our clowns at their parties throughout the years has meant to them.
One parent shared with Flossy that their pre-teen son seldom smiles and mopes around most of the time, but he was grinning, laughing and having a great time with the clowns. Scooter had a parent tell him that several years ago at a Christmas party in Everett he had helped to lift her spirits when she was going through a rough spot.
Santa himself said it was always a pleasure to see our clowns there and even inquired where Duffy was that day as he had not seen him. (Duffy was in Peru with another clown team.)
New clowns Jelly Bean and Selfie improvised making bean bag/kush ball tossing games where parents played right along with their children. Our duty driver even joined in the fun!
The USS Nimitz Morale Welfare and Recreation Director also told Scooter that the clowns truly make his job easier at these kinds of events and that the USS Nimitz crew and families look forward to the clowns being with them.
Four clowns from Caring Clowns International traveled with a team of 13 craniofacial surgeons, neurosurgeons, anesthesiologist and scrub techs to Lima, Peru where they performed much needed surgeries.
CoCo, Duffy, Flora and Rose entertained many children, their families and the hospital staff at the 700-bed Instituto Ncional de Salud del Nino.
The US medical team members are all part of Komedyplast. They all volunteer their time and pay their own way to make these trips. They have completed over 180 surgeries in the 12-year period…all successful.
They are one-of-a-kind nonprofit, because they focus on correcting complex facial anomalies, in addition to doing cleft lip and cleft palate corrections.
During the week, the surgeons operated in two ORs, and performed about 15 surgeries, many of which were full facial reconstructions requiring long seven to nine hour surgeries.
This is our 12th year with Komedyplast and we have been on all their missions to Peru. We are officially their international entertainment troupe.
We clowned all day our first Saturday there, during “screening day,” when the Doctors take a last look at kids for potential surgeries for the following week. While families are waiting, we entertain the children and adults. There were about 50 families that came for the screening. It is a long and stressful day for the children and their families and so the comedic entertainment helped to distract them during the process.
This year, our complete focus was in the hospital and with Komedyplast patients, parents and our doctors, as well as with staff and patients throughout the hospital and adjacent clinic. We spent real quality time in pre-op with a number of our Komedyplast kids, as well as follow-up in post-op. Our presence made a noticeable difference in lowering anxiety not only for the kids, but with their parents, too.
While the Doctors were in surgery, we clowns not only went bed-to-bed throughout the 700 bed children’s hospital but also spent time in the burn unit, the cardio unit and the hospital’s busy clinic.
Special thanks to Coco’s niece Kathy-Ann for knitting over 100 hats of various colors and sizes for the children and also to fellow Caring Clowns international member Sparkles friends Shirley and Darrel Wood for donating Beanie Babies for the children.
The four video links below illustrate the positive impact clowning had for the children; you can see the joy in their faces and those of their parents. The four videos are:
Monday arrival at the hospital in the busy clinic
Visiting the very busy clinic and the burn unit
Beautiful children with their new hats and Beanie Babies
The Doctors which is a tribute to the work the US medical team did and some before/after photos of some of the successful surgeries
To clowns and special friends everywhere…thank you for your support in 2016!! You have inspired us to bring joy and laughter through clowning to hundreds of thousands of less-fortunate children and their parents; hospital patients and staffs; folks in retirement and assisted living facilities; to members and the families of our U.S. military branches; and to many others throughout the United States and in 17 countries. We look forward to sharing our 2017 clowning adventures with you.