In 2010 Giselle Navaroli, aka Moska her therapeutic clown, introduced Joan to a gathering of clowns with a like-minded vision of clowning as an approach to wellness. This was our first fundraising initiative autonomous from SickKids. Giselle and Joan flew to Bogata, then to Medillin in November 2010 for the 2nd International Clown Encuentro, which focused on ‘humanitarian clowning’. Their clowning techniques are used to bring compassion, social welfare, and educational development to people often in situations of hardship and suffering. Medellin, Colombia is a city with a rich and varied cultural heritage where clowning and theatre has historically played an important social role.

The Encuentro workshops were hosted by the theatre department of the University of Antioquia and were coordinated in collaboration with Clowns Without Borders, USA, Mimame, and the NGO Arte Para la Paz. As well as the workshops for beginners and experienced clowns, the Encuentro included daily conferences and presentations by international clown artists, and performances by invited artists at specific locations around the city for a full pallet of clown professional development.

Giselle and Joan had the privilege of participating in a six day workshop taught by Wendy Ramos, a Master Clown from Peru. The participants were comprised of clowns from many South American countries.

In addition to the workshops, participants were invited on an expedition into the smaller villages in the mountains of Colombia, in conjunction with Medellin’s 13th annual clown and mime festival that, Mimame had launched in 1984. A collapsible stage was brought along, hitched on a truck and the clown troupe was transported in an open air bus where smiles, waves and hellos were received from the heart. These simple moments and gestures is what continue to inspire the work and relationship of TCI and Columbia to grow.