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RED NOSES Clowndoctors International

Little Miracles

RED NOSES Clowndoctors International

Little
Miracles

Real life stories
to make you laugh and think

Preface by

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AMALTHEA

This project has been funded with support from the European
Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which
may be made of the information contained therein.

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Visit us online at www.rednoses.eu
and www.amalthea.at

© 2015 by Amalthea Signum Verlag, Wien
All rights reserved
Translation: Connect-Sprachenservice GmbH,
www.connect-sprachenservice.at
Proofreading: Tina Pedersen (In the Margins Editing)
and Marianne Obi
Cover Design: Beate Hecher
Photos
Cover: © Zuzana Vajdova;
Back flap: © Felix Heller; Back: © Tariq Ameera
Graphic Design: Cindy Leitner
Typeset in 11/15 Kievit Pro, 9/11 Minion Pro
ISBN 978-3-99050-018-7
eISBN 978-3-903083-06-6

Contents

Preface

Rolando Villazón

About the Philosophy of RED NOSES Clowndoctors

Monica Culen and Giora Seeliger

About This Book

Gary Edwards

Little Miracles from Austria

A Spell of Lightness

Christian Sommer

A Little Big Success

Jutta Pichler

Coming Back to Max

Martina Haslhofer

Music Connects

Christina Matuella

One Moment in Time – Daniel Discovering Love

Karola Sakotnik

The Main Thing Is That It’s Possible

Markus Rupert

The Gods of Theatre Are Smiling

Giora Seeliger

Balkan Conflict

Giora Seeliger

A Breath of Air

Ingrid Türk-Chlapek

Little Miracles from the Czech Republic

Last Laugh

Jana Kučerová

Dad and the Lion

Radka Blatná

Miracle Bubble

Gary Edwards

Birds under the Bed

Gary Edwards

The Empty Bed

Gary Edwards

Nicole’s Gift

Gary Edwards

Princess Karolina

Gary Edwards

Little Miracles from Germany

Less Is More

Reinhard Horstkotte

Confronting the Elephant

Paul Kustermann

Little Miracle from Croatia

More Music

Zoran Vukic

Little Miracles from Hungary

Évi Loves to Dance

Eszter Nagy

Help During Examinations

János Greifenstein

Poetic Encounters of Never-Ending Repetition

Zsolt Reitter

Mr. Hedgehog and Mr. Worm

Éva Csatári

Hide and Seek

Tünde Gelencsér

Little Miracles from Lithuania

Falling in Love

Žilvinas Beniušis

Looking for a Pig

Marija Baranauskaitė

Little Miracles from New Zealand

Smiling Eyes

Jude Bishop

Making Faces

Jude Bishop

A Small Success

Jude Bishop

Little Miracles from Poland

Mr. Fingers

Jim Williams

A Jam Session for Ala

Jim Williams

Little Miracles from Palestine

The Blind Leading the Blind

Tarek Zboun

Life as a Clown Can Be So Touching and So Difficult at the Same Time!

Tarek Zboun

Eye to Eye

Faisal Abualhay

Little Miracle from Slovenia

Flowers for Marko

Tomaž Lapajne Dekleva

Little Miracles from Slovakia

Sammie’s Ark

Mariana Kovačechová

Oliver

Tomáš Hudcovič

A Concert for Simonka

Jarka Hatiarová

The Invisible Granny

Jarka Hatiarová

About RED NOSES Clowndoctors

Photo Credits

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Preface

I’ve been a passionate ambassador for RED NOSES for many years. As »Dr. Rollo« the clown, I accompany the clowndoctors as often as I can on their visits to various hospitals, and I witness the great job they do again and again.

RED NOSES clowns are able to turn tears into smiles. They bring happiness and colour into the hospital room. With the brilliance of a rainbow, they transport sick people to a world filled with colours, motion, light and freedom, and their poetry remains long after they are gone.

RED NOSES clowns are not just a form of entertainment – their psychosocial support of people in difficult situations is of great importance.

Thanks to the clowndoctors, people can feel a spark of happiness and joy despite illness and worry. Everyone – whether young or old – needs to know that we can and may laugh, especially in difficult situations. Laughter is a part of human nature.

As I have often experienced RED NOSES clowns, I know the profound impact they have. Touching moments, such as those described in this book, are very familiar to me.

It fills me with pride to be able to call myself a part of the RED NOSES family.

Rolando Villazón

Star tenor, director and writer

Humour Ambassador of RED NOSES Clowndoctors International

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About the Philosophy of RED NOSES Clowndoctors

Sigmund Freud once said, »Those who can’t laugh laugh anymore, are no longer viable.« In our view, this sentence underlines the fact that laughter is an essential human need.

We not only witness the power of humour in our daily work in the hospitals, but it’s also confirmed by doctors and nurses. In fact, happiness and laughter are often perceived as inappropriate in the hospital environment, especially in difficult situations. However, it’s exactly in these situations that one should feel free to laugh for the simple reason that laughter can generate relief and a feeling of liberation, and it can have an immense effect on one’s attitude towards life.

We demand high artistic and empathic standards from our clowndoctors. They have to train extensively to ensure that they can meet patients of all ages and under all circumstances with sensibility and respect, and then take them into a joyful, colourful and magical world.

The experiences of our clowns are as varied as life itself: from cheerful and happy to touching and emotional. This is also evident in the impressive stories in this book, all of which are based on true situations.

Enjoy reading them!

Monica Culen and Giora Seeliger

Founders of RED NOSES Clowndoctors

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About This Book

As few people readily associate hospitals with joy and laughter, any patient’s smile or laugh may, in itself, be viewed as a small miracle. If we were to include all of the little miracles that we, the RED NOSES clowndoctors, have experienced over the past 20 years in one book, we would have an impossibly large publication – a book of clown proportions :o). Therefore, we have chosen a handful of our experiences to share with you here.

RED NOSES Clowndoctors are active in 10 countries (until 2014 in 11 including New Zealand). Therefore, when deciding which stories to include in this volume, we chose to include stories from all countries. The authors are clowns who work regularly with patients in children’s wards and geriatric homes.

We even included a story from an adult trauma centre, as our aim is to give you some insight into the depth and versatility of our work. As I put this collection together, I cried, I laughed, and I was reminded time and time again of the amazing group of people that constitute RED NOSES Clowndoctors and of the importance of our mission.

All the stories in this book are true and the events recounted here have happened in the course of our work. We often share these experiences with our colleagues or include them in the reports we write after each visit. We’re happy to have the opportunity to share them with you.

Gary Edwards

Initiator of the book Little Miracles and
RED NOSES clowndoctor

Little Miracles from Austria

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A Spell of Lightness

Christian Sommer

It’s Friday morning, and we – my fellow clown colleague, Lotte, and I, clown Bernhart – are visiting the waiting rooms of several outpatient departments in a large Viennese hospital. Sometimes, we also get invited to pay a visit to children in the intensive care unit (ICU). Today is one of those days.

In my mind, the ICU is a cold department in which silence is strictly enforced. There’s a constant bustle and a whole lot of tension. The often dramatic fates of young and adult patients burden me with the same kind of heaviness that surrounds the whole station – but maybe I’m the only one who perceives it this way.

We take a deep breath before we enter the intensive care ward. The door to the first room purrs open in an automatic and brutally intrusive fashion. Many expectant eyes welcome us, along with two very frightened ones. A soft whimper that belongs to those frightened eyes can be heard – accompanied by the sight of a small, fairly thin and definitely powerless body.

We stand in the doorway and try to greet the children with our quietest »Hellos.« The frightened child’s reactions suggest that there’s one hello too many. Lotte steps out of the room while I stay. All is well now, or at least, all is quiet. »Well« is different, especially now that I’m standing here without my companion. We start a little game: Lotte comes in, then leaves again. I get her back, but she disappears again behind the sliding door. The game confirms once more that the little guy can only handle the effect of one of us – and that one happens to be me.

I really have no idea who is more timid at that moment. The little guy, as anything that is »too much« or »too loud« would crush him, or me, as I don’t dare to threaten that carefully woven thread of curiosity and acceptance. Mustering up all my courage, I venture an approach. A couple of sounds plucked on the ukulele. A song. And large eyes and a smile. Moments of closeness between the mother, the brother and the child. I find myself in the background and that is good.

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The last notes of the song fade away, and I know that I can come closer for a goodbye. One red nose is here, but we still need another one – for the older brother, who can certainly help me with a magic spell. But the brother can’t help out here. Oh! What to do?

Suddenly, a fervently whispered »HEY PRESTO!« emerges from the trembling body that now boasts sparkling eyes. Amazement at the sight of his magically conjured foam nose. Great amazement on the part of the rest of us. The boy gives me a hardly noticeable »high five« and whirls me through the air that way. And he laughs. A lot.

I leave the room and search for Lotte in the ward. She’s gone. I pass by the boy’s room again and see her standing near the open door. Everyone is talking and giggling. I feel a refreshing lightness flowing out of that room. I’m sure it will continue for a while.

A Little Big Success

Jutta Pichler

Two clowns knock on the door to the speech therapy department in the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) ward. We’re often warmly welcomed in this department.

In the room, we meet a 45-year-old man who has become mute after suffering a severe traumatic brain injury in an accident. He can’t speak and his communication is very limited. At the moment, blinking or turning his head are his only ways of entering into contact with the outside world.

A speech therapist and a physical therapist are working with him in front of a mirror. At their beckoning, we enter the room softly and slowly, and we say a clear »Hello.« We welcome each other very gently and quietly.