Clown pimpa sows smiles in Gaza Strip
Gaza – Subscribers who read our website will remember for sure Clown Pimpa, alias Marco Rodari, an old time friend of our Gaza parish. He was there during the war of summer 2014. This year, he came back for a longer period: three months during which he revived smiles. A testimony.
What is the feeling when one arrives in Gaza?
An experience in Gaza is never pointless. First it is an acquaintance with thousands of children’s smiles drawn on somber faces; a typical expression of those who had to learn to live by themselves, since their tender years.
There’s also the common expression “beeti beetak” (“my house is yours”), which is a social custom in the Arab world, especially in Gaza, which shows that the meeting with a foreigner is lived as a moment of true brotherly feast day.
Other things noteworthy are the lack of freedom, power, decent housing, job opportunities, and plans for future, on top of absence of peace.
What did you expect a year after the last war?
I thought I would find worn out men and debris. However, over the last months Gaza looked livelier than ever. The social and cultural initiative has replenished, the inhabitants have lived an almost normal summer. Many young people have attended summer camps with a big desire to impart joy to children. We should keep in mind that a 6-year-old child of Gaza has already known three wars! If we consider that children are the future of this territory, they deserve however a slight measure of merriness.
The same atmosphere is found in schools: teachers and also children are really happy to come back to classes on the date fixed by the school calendar, not by bombs.
Tell us about this summer …
I reached areas most affected by shelling: at Beit Lahiya, Beit Hannoun, Shujaya, Khan Yunes and Rafah. I gave a dozen of theatrical performances in the town of Gaza. I did a total of 200 performances. I also opened a school of magic-learning for children, where I teach the joy of marveling and that of letting others smile. A child knowing this wonder will be an ambassador of joy, of happiness. However, happiness is a rare thing in this small territory.
Do you work alone?
Certainly not! I carry on the work initiated by the Parish of the Holy Family which is the only local Catholic parish. I used to live at the parish during the last three months.
This year I found many helpers in Gaza. I accompanied students of the circus school “Gaza Team for Circus”. A team of physicians and psychologists from Caritas Jerusalem has carried out a project of psychological support to some 300 children, seriously affected by the last war, namely in four areas of the Gaza Strip.
The activity of doctors-clowns was obvious at Abdel Aziz al Rantissi and Al- Nasser Hospitals in the town of Gaza and at Hospital Tahrir of Khan Yunes. They were helped by the fascinating doctors of the association “Dreams of Gaza”. I would like to greet them for all the smiles they brought about and the impressive professionalism they have shown.
Another appointment not to be missed, so magical for children “Super Heroes Otherwise”, which took place at the house of the Sisters of Mother Teresa. This year the task was yet heavier, since the number of children rose from 27 to 50. It is a “gift”, if one might say of the last war.
What pushes you to do all these things?
Bringing a smile on the face of a child gives meaning to my life, fills it in. That’s all.
Do you feel scared?
There are no major or minor fears in a war; it’s amazing not to feel scared by shelling, by the noise that would shatter the hearing sense without talking of the dust, the howls … Surprisingly, one would fear a simple sudden movement by a small bird standing on a tree branch. More importantly is put these fears, even the deepest of them, somewhere else for Spirit and heart should remain free; otherwise the situation would become unbearable.
How do children live the war?
Some days ago, aircraft were seen in the skies of Gaza, together with bombs. It’s impossible to sleep. On the following day children went back to school, as usual. No fatigue was seen in their eyes, only a thirst to see marvels.
Gaza is one of the areas of the world where rate of unemployment is among the highest, almost 80 %. It’s a very difficult to find a job. Another issue lies in the lack of occupation (helpless situation, hard to give sense to one’s life and to earn a salary) which affects 4 adults out of 5.
The idea of finding a job which helps you sustain living is like a fanciful dream.
Unfortunately the kinds of employment available are scarce: either they work in the army, in teaching, in trade or in garbage cleaning. Industry and agriculture are almost non-existent.
How would you solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
This is a very complicated matter; it does not befit a clown. I found a meaning, and a hope, only with children.
Among children coming to Europe, there are also Gazans. Is the territory being emptied out?
Gaza cannot be emptied out; it is a prison with an open sky, nobody could flee away.
Does Clown Pimpa intend to come back to Gaza?
I would like to come back to Gaza as soon as possible. The love I get from all children, from everybody I have met, draws me nearer. You cannot flee away from a place where you have lived a war. Personal relationships, when weaved in blood, become genuine brotherly links.
Information compiled by Andres Bergamini
To know more about Clown pimpa, refer to: http://www.ilpimpa.it/