Caring Clowns International is an all-volunteer, tax-exempt charitable non–profit organization. We clown with children and adults in the U.S. and developing countries in every setting from hospitals, orphanages and schools to earthquake ravaged areas and poor locales.
In addition, Caring Clowns International raises and funds projects that help kids in need around the world. One of the projects we recently provided a $5000 grant was to the Kumari Project. The Kumari Project provides a safe house for 12 Nepalese children who have been abandoned by their parents either through death, desertion, or extended prison term. They have been receiving limited, sub-standard education and have been recently enrolled in a good private school.
The grant will help fund the 2016 school year fees, supplies and other expenses for the 12 children in the safe house as they strive to catch up to a normal class level for their age and establish a good foundation on which to build further education and a love of learning.
Recently we received some feedback from the organizers of the Kumai Project, Beth and Arun, on the kid’s progress.
“It was a great visit with the kids….they got their term exam results just after we arrived and we are thrilled with their progress (2 of the 12 are first in their class, and 3 more are in the top 10. Thanks to you we have the funds to be able to find good tutors for those that are still struggling a bit in their new school. Thank you again for your generous gift.”
The Kumari Project Orphans showing their gratitude.
The Kumari Project as well as the numerous other projects the Caring Clowns International organization supports is making a difference for these disadvantage kids. Through your generous donations we are helping kids all around the world as well as bringing smiles too many others.
Follow us as we return to Peru for 10 days to support Komedyplast, a U.S. nonprofit that performs free craniofacial surgeries for the poor children in Peru, we have helped support doctors with clowning during the screening and post care for children in the hospital.
Well, we are off on Thursday to be with the Komedyplast medical team again in Peru..and we are all excited!! Many of the docs having been going on these missions for all or most of the 11 years. We have all become a close knit family.
Komedyplast was founded a couple of years after Caring Clowns International (I am on their Board of Directors). 2015 was their 10th anniversary. They have completed over 170 surgeries in the 10 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. Typically there are about 15 on the medical team- Craniofacial surgeons and Neurosurgeons, Anesthesiologists and Scrub Techs.
During the week the surgeons operate in two ORs, and perform about 20-25 surgeries, many of which are the full facial reconstructions – 7-9 hour surgeries.
Four clowns typically go on these medial/clowning missions to Peru. This is our 11th year with Komedyplast– and we have been on all their missions to Peru. We are officially their international entertainment troupe.
We clown all day during the day of screening- when the Doctors take a last look at kids for potential surgeries. While families are waiting, we entertain them all – kids and adults. Typically there are about 150-200 families that come for the screening.
Sometimes we are there when the children are prepped and wheeled into the OR: holding a hand, patting a face, giving physical and verbal “abrazos” (hugs).
While the Doctors are in surgery on Monday and Tuesday, we spend going bed-to-bed throughout the 700 bed children’s hospital, and go around Lima and surrounding areas putting on 1 hour shows for kids in orphanages, schools for the disabled, shanty towns, another hospital, etc. We typically do 3 shows a day and hand out red noses and balloon animals. Wednesday and Thursday, we spend time with the kids and families in recovery and go to other venues putting on shows.
In a typical week we will use 6,000 balloons and give away 1,000 noses.
The Doctors pay their own way for these “missions,” and sometimes go back during the year between missions to check on patients with their Peruvian counterparts.
We will be in touch as we clown in Peru!!!
For Flora, Sox and Sparkles, too
Well, we haven’t left yet. Tomorrow is the big travel day for Flora, Sparkles and me leaving from Seattle through Dallas to Lima (and most of the docs leaving from New York and Chicago). Lima is 3 hours ahead of us in Seattle (like New York time).
Sox had a much longer trip from Uganda through Brazil to Lima (He left today, so he will be there when we arrive Friday.)
We will be primarily “working” at the new Children’s Hospital – Instituto Nacional de Salud del Niño in San Borja, a district of Lima.
Since we have not been at this hospital before, it will be a new experience for both the medical and the clown teams. I expect that Friday, we will all tour the hospital and get the lay of the land.
Here is a video when the hospital opened. (It looks pretty spiffy compared to the old hospital). Hospital Video
Well, I guess I can’t hold off packing any more, or I am not going anywhere!
We will be in touch through the week.
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too
First leg was Seattle to Dallas…4 hours.
Then Dallas to Lima…6 hours plus, photos….with Claudia and David, who we met on the flight.
(Noses for both flight crews, too)
Flora, Sparkles and I arrived in Lima at about 6:20 a.m. Friday, then 45 minutes to our hotel.
Sox is here. Flew from Uganda through Brazil, and arrived Thursday.
We will rest up a bit, then probably all head to the hospital to get acquainted in preparation for clowning/doctor screening all day Saturday. (This is the new Children’s Hospital in San Borja and new to all of us).
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too
Hi all, 3 tired clowns have arrived in Lima. Can you tell we are at the hotel? The Casa Andina Miraflores Private Collection.
We had an adventure with the traffic as always, lanes don’t matter, there were 12 lanes of traffic including lots of busses traveling in 5 lanes at one point. I know my eyes were closed, I think maybe our driver’s eyes were closed to.
We have had breakfast and are waiting for our rooms and the doctors to arrive. A shower and a nap sure sound good, more than 4 hours to wait till our rooms are ready. Patience. We left home at 10 yesterday morning it is now 9:30 am. No wonder we are tired! A good night’s sleep and we’ll be ready for the next 10 days.
Duffy and Sparkles
Well, some of the Docs showed up!! Whoo Hoo! (others coming late tonight and tomorrow).
We are all looking forward to a great week. This is our 11th mission. After all these years, we are truly family.
So even as tired as everyone is, still our first day here, this afternoon the medical team takes all their surgical supplies for use during the week and sorts and organizes it all.
One of the tenants of Komedyplast is to bring as much as they possibly can and to not be a burden to the hospital where they perform the surgeries.
Tomorrow it all starts, with the doctors screening the kids for potential surgery while the clowns play with and entertain the waiting (and anxious) families.
LET THE CLOWNING BEGIN! ( no more kidding around in street clothes for us!….well maybe just a little).
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too.
Saturday is screening day. While the doctors look at the kids, we played with those families waiting…
For Flora, Sparkles and Sox, too
Two major surgeries today, the plan is two major ones each day thru Thursday and 6 “simple” ones on Friday. One of the children scheduled for today had a fever so the Doctor traded one scheduled for Wednesday. Speaks well of the expertise and flexibility of these Doctors.
We, us 4 clowns and Eliana as our guide and translator, visited 3 floors of Los Ninos today. We began by meeting the director of the hospital and her staff (pictured) and then off to see two of the girls we first met on Sat that are sched for surgery on Friday. Their room filled quickly with a newsman, photographer, hospital director, Euslava (not sure on the spelling), Jeff Weinswieg and us Clowns. We all made the local news.
Much more enjoyable was visiting three youngins with leukemia having chemo treatment and 25 in the burn unit. I was pleased with the cleanliness of the children and their rooms. Mostly thankful with the seeming void of pain for these children who have experienced extensive burns. Burns are quite common in the poorer areas as fires are built on the ground and huge pots of water are heated there. We heard many sad stories and saw many big smiles. We spent the most of our time here one on one with the kids. As we were leaving we passed one of the young boys standing on his bed with his sword, our turn to really smile, we knew our visit had made a difference to these kids if only for a little while.
Tomorrow we are going early to visit more leukemia patients as they come in for their chemo treatment.
Today was a good day!
The medical team finished up with several surgeries yesterday, and we have packed up our grease paint, costumes and gags for the trip home- no balloons or red noses to take back.
It seems to me that each of these missions is the same but so unique.
The “work” we all do in our different disciplines is the same, but the connection we make with each child, parent and hospital staff is its own…and every one reflects the love and caring of what we are all involved in.
I have been coming on these trips with Komedplast a long time now. I am still awestruck by how and what these doctors and surgical technicians do. To say they change kids’ lives with the surgeries they perform is such an understatement. Life changing just doesn’t seem to convey the impact they have on the children and their families.
I have never met such a humble and genuinely caring group of people. They do miraculous things in the quietest way- so precisely and so gracefully. And at every turn, they literally hold the life of every child in their hands.
The Komedplast team has performed well over 100 surgeries now, and every one has been a success.
They are amazing human beings and they consider us clowns part of their family.(How cool is that!).
I never have adequate words to express how much we clowns appreciate and love each of them.
Mid week each of us received a personal brief letter from the manager of the hotel where we are staying.
It pretty well captures what these missions are all about…
“The amazing job you are doing and the lessons you give us on how to live with our souls and hearts spreading love and kindness all around, without expecting nothing is unbelievable! We are honored to be hosting such an amazing team at or Hotel. Welcome again.” (From Elisabeth Henkelmann, Hotel Manager, Casa Andina Private Collection, Miraflores, Lima )
For all of us clowns, we too are honored to be part of this marvelous continuing journey.
An honest appraisal from his drama coach six years ago saying he couldn’t sing, led London boy Andy Bownds to switch from singing to performing a comedy routine. That one defining moment led to a thesis on the benefits of laughter, clowning trips to Peru and Vietnam and a life in Uganda focused on building sustainable economies.
It was in 2009 when attending Winchester University that Andy’s professor told him he wasn’t a natural born singer. He switched to a clowning routine and eventually wrote his dissertation on the benefits of laughter. And, that’s when “Sox” – a lad his friends teased as having smelly feet — was born. As part of his research for the dissertation, his online research led him to Jed “Duffy” Selter, co-founder and president of the board of directors of Caring Clowns International.
Caring Clowns International is an all-volunteer, IRS tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization comprised of clowns across the U.S. and several other countries. These clowns donate their time at over 80 events internationally and across the U.S. including orphanages, children’s and other hospitals, events for homeless children and adults, residences for abused women and children, schools for the disabled, retirement centers, VA hospitals, events for kids with down syndrome and disabilities, and children whose parents are in prisons and correctional facilities.
In addition, the organization raises funds to help kids in need around the world.
One of the group’s annual events is traveling to Lima, Peru as part of Komedyplast where surgeons perform facial reconstruction for poor children while the clowns….well they clown.
Sox was invited to join the group. To save funds for the 11 day trip, Andy slept on the kitchen floor at a mate’s house. The group of clowns visited four children’s centers and a school in the slums of Lima. A comedy act at a shanty town in Lima heightened Andy’s awareness of how much he has in his life.
Andy’s first trip to Peru which he described as “life changing.
He returned to Lima again the following year and also, through connections with Caring Clowns International, visited Vietnam clowning for 10 days including an orphanage in Hanoi along with fellow clown “Sidekick” Andrew Teale. To read about their time in Vietnam see: http://www.caringclownsinternational.org/vietnam/
His greatest challenge while in Vietnam was doing a comedy routine for a school for the deaf and blind; half of whom couldn’t hear him and the other half who couldn’t see him. “It made me a better clown,” Andy said.
Andy clowning at the deaf and blind school in Vietnam.
Following his passion for helping those less fortunate, Andy eventually found his way from London to Masaka, Uganda. He is the Community Partnership Manager at the Uganda International Marathon. http://www.ugandamarathon.com which held its first race on May 24, 2015. Over 1,000 runners from around the world which to date raised 380,293,060 Ugandan shillings for charity, making it the second largest fundraising event in Ugandan history. The money is helping support nine projects in the Masaka area including children’s schools and community support organizations.
Andy with “Sidekick” Andrew Teale after he completed the Uganda International Marathon raising money for Masaka.
Andy working with Action for Integrated Community Development — one of the Marathon funded projects.
And, if traveling around the world clowning, coordinating a massive marathon doesn’t keep him busy enough, Andy and a partner started Ssaza Community Resort Farm, a fully stocked and thriving fish pond. The pond is stocked with no, not clown fish, but rather 7,000 tilapia. “The best way to develop a country is to start a sustainable business and employ people,” Andy said. He and his business partner built an Olympic-sized pond on 1 ½ acres of land raising fish that grow to 500 grams (one pound) which are then sold in markets to the Masaka villagers. The profits from the sale of the fish are then reinvested back into the Masaka community.
Ssaza Community Resort Farm and dog Buddy looking over his land.
In addition to traveling the world as a clown, the marathon and fish pond, “Sox” also finds time to clown in Masaka including a recent Christmas Party where the party goers were expecting Santa in a red and white costume, but instead got Sox, with a red nose. Something was lost in translation! But everyone enjoyed the evening.
Andy is gearing up for this third trip with Caring Clowns International to Peru in January of 2016. Many of the same families return each year to the hospital, hoping that their child will be one of the lucky ones selected for the much needed surgery. “The kids and the parents remember you, so that makes it so rewarding,” Andy said.
The clowning trips, like the ones to Peru, involve long 12 hour days and give Andy time to reflect on his university dissertation on the benefits of laughter. “Is there really an impact if I get someone to laugh?” Andy reflects. “There’s medical proof of the healing effects of laughter,” he said.
So, as he continues traveling the world clowning and devoting his time to the marathon and building a sustainable fish pond business in Uganda, Sox will be remembered by many for sharing his many talents….and his smile.
Photo’s summarising the 2015 Uganda International Marathon.
Please Continue to Support Us
December 31, 2015
This has been an exciting year for us in Caring Clowns International. This year, with your help we have raised and donated over $21,000 to several organizations helping children in need in the U.S. and in developing countries. This brings our total donations to help children to over $277,000!
Here are some highlights for 2015:
- Peru Craniofacial Surgeries – In our 10th year with Komedyplast, a U.S. nonprofit that performs free craniofacial surgeries for poor children in Peru, we have helped support doctors with clowning during the screening and post care for children in the hospital. This year, the doctors completed 22 surgeries. The clowns also performed in other hospital wards and around Lima at schools, orphanages, children’s recover center, a girls’ camp and a retirement home. Komedyplast has performed over 160 surgeries for poor children in Peru during these 10 years. All have been successful. We are also proud to say that in 2015, Caring Clowns International raised $4,450 $ for Komedyplast to help with the surgeries.
- The Bufferfly Readers Project – We were able to provide and broker through a local Rotary Club a total of $4,700 to enable a pilot program for remedial readers at the Athlone Girls School in Johannesburg, South Africa. This project provided urgent teaching and intervention to children from low income families to improve their reading level. By all accounts, the program has been a grand success, and may lead to contracts with more schools. The South African national government’s education office is even talking about making The Butterfly Readers project a national standard.
- Nepal Earthquake Relief – We provided $5,000 to support a Nepalese nonprofit called Nourish Nepal. With these funds, they provided blankets, tents and water to hundreds of families devastated by the recent earthquake in Nepal.
- Wall of Hope – We provided $2,000 to a nonprofit called Wall of Hope to support the building of a community center for disadvantaged youth in Gondar Ethiopia. The center will assist in feeding youth, providing them a stable environment to meet, learn and gather, and assist them in developing professional and social skills to be more successful in life.
- The Kumari Project – We provided $5,000 to The Kumari Project that runs a small safe house for 12 orphans in Budhanilkantha, Nepal. This project provides health care, education, nutrition and life skills to these Nepalese orphans. Our grant will pay for the 2016 school year fees, supplies et al for the 12 children in the safe house in an excellent school.
- Local Clown Gigs – We have clowned at a number of events in the Puget Sound Area in Washington State providing smiles on countless children’s and adult’s faces. For some of these appearances, we received donations to help us fund projects helping children. Many, however, are also just our support to the community. Some of these events include the family fun events for the crew and families of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in Bremerton, community celebration events in Manette and Bremerton and a number of Christmas celebrations. All told this year, we performed in 25 events, in the Puget Sound Area. In addition, several of our clowns perform twice monthly at the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. Several other of our clowns in Virginia and Detroit also perform regularly a hospitals and local events.
As you know, we are an all-volunteer tax exempt charitable nonprofit that spends 93% of all donations on the people we support.
Your involvement and contributions allow us to continue to help needy children to be able to live healthier lives.
Thank you for your support! Click to Donate
(Please fell free to pass this note along to your friends and families, as well)
For all of us…a giggle of clowns who care
Jed “Duffy” Selter
President & Executive Director »» Read More
There are two populations who are very child-like in their feelings, thoughts and actions.
One is children with Down syndrome. The other………clowns. Put the two populations together and the result is nothing short of magical.
Deb “Giggles” Foy, a practicing clown for 30 years and member of Caring Clowns International, had the inspiration to share the gift of clowning with adults and children with Down syndrome….not just performing for them….but actually teaching them how to clown.
Giggles put her vision in motion. She contacted the Down Syndrome Guild of South Eastern Michigan and, with the help of fellow Caring Clowns International member Lorrie “LorBelle” Garison and other clowns from the organization, taught a two-day class for 12 children and adults. Proper make up techniques, costumes, performing, balloons. Everything a “newbie” clown needs to know. The special needs kids brought their own natural “magical moment” qualities which can’t be taught.
Upon “graduation” the newbie clowns visited the Sunrise Senior Living community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
“Bringing the Down syndrome clowns and the senior residents together was magical,” said Giggles. Giggles recalls one parent who attended the senior living visit. She was nearly brought to tears as she watched her son – now as a clown – approach one Sunrise resident who was sitting alone in a corner. She explained that it was the first time her son was on the opposite end of receiving attention. That now HE was giving of himself to someone.
The performance at the nursing home might not live up to “normal” clown standards. Costumes and make up were simple. There were no fancy or complicated animal balloons or sword balloons. But it didn’t matter to the nursing home residents.
“We just shared a moment, a laugh, a smile, a heart-spring connection,” Giggles said. “God wired and made these Down syndrome kids that way….to be child-like and loving. Those are the perfect attributes of a good clown. It’s a gift…clowns are gifts to the people we touch.”
Paulette Duggins, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Detroit agrees that it was a winning formula. “The students were very excited and it was very positive for the seniors,” she said. She credits Giggles and LoraBelle for putting the students at ease and working prior to the class on learning how teaching students with disabilities differs from other teaching methods.
Based on the clowning school success, Giggles and LoraBelle were invited to attend the National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention in July 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. They performed in the opening ceremony as a clown, but more importantly presented two sessions to convention attendees. They shared a moving video of the clown class and nursing home visit with attendees at the convention in the hope that other Affiliates would launch similar programs locally in their cities and towns.
“We have 250 other affiliates like us, “ Duggins said. “I think it’s a program others would be interested in.”
Giggles said she got the inspiration to do something locally with a special needs group after returning from an exhaustive but rewarding clowning gig in Africa. Giggles and three other clowns from Caring Clowns International spent three weeks visiting orphanages, schools and hospitals in Ethiopia and Uganda. Caring Clowns International is an all-volunteer, IRS tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization comprised of clowns across the U.S. and several other countries. These clowns donate their time at over 80 events internationally and across the U.S. including orphanages, children’s and other hospitals, events for homeless children and adults, residences for abused women and children, schools for the disabled, retirement center, VA hospitals, prisons and correctional facilities, etc.
The inspiration quickly spread. Lois “Coco” Kerr, also a Caring Clowns International member and board member, hosted a similar clown class in her community in Kent, Washington. Attending were junior and high school students with special needs including those with Down syndrome. Coco, along with Michael “Banjo” Honstain and Cal “Nok Nok” Ainley also Caring Clowns International members, taught a clown class to 15 eager students.
After learning simple magic tricks and balloon twisting, the students entertained residents at Arbor Village Continuing Care Retirement Community in Kent.
Like Giggles, Coco sees the magical connection. “The bonding with the residents, they enjoyed it so much,” Coco said.
The program in South Eastern Michigan and Washington are living proof of the Caring Clown International’s mission — to free the “inner kid” in children and adults alike.
Deb “Giggles” Foy (center) and Lorrie “LorBelle” Garison pose with one of their newbie clown graduates.
Deb “Giggles” Foy and Paulette Duggins, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Detroit enjoy a moment with one of the clown students.
The students learned the importance of make up in expressing a clown’s personality.
Proof that clowning is a lot of fun!!
Jed “Duffy” Selter enjoys a moment with one of the newbie clowns.
The newbie clowns then visited a continuing care community entertaining residents there.
Clown “teachers” at the event in Kent, Washington include Sally “Geniblue” Hansen, Cal “NokNok” Ainle, Lois “CoCo” Kerr, Mike “Banjo” Honstain.