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My tour with Patch Adams
Healing with Humour Tour 2004
In 2004 I was privileged to tour with Patch Adams across Europe, visiting orphanages and hospitals in Moscow and St Petersburgh. My book on my experience is being revised and will be available shortly !!
Cirque de Solei we were not but clown we did! Patchs mission was achieved. We found and spent our clown selves. We experienced the disparity between rich and poor. We made Russian friends. One was Maria Elyseeva, who has founded an Arts Rehabilitation Centre called Marias Children.
Marias plea to all of us at the auction of childrens art was :- ”We are not afraid to dream, and our dreams sometimes come true. Friends help us. People who believe in us. Then the miracle begins. To the bed of the incurable child comes the black pony….the boy without fingers creates music….Chechen children put on clown costumes…the walls of the orphanages are covered with rainbows…butterflies take you away on their wings to a magical world where there is no pain and tears. Where every child has someone who loves him. You can help …”
And help we did . In partnership with an Australian clown Gaby Browarcyzyk I purchased a wall mural called “World of Harry Potter” which will tour Australasia in 2005-2006 and be a vehicle to tell the world of “Maria’s children” and help with raising funds for her work. See image below!
The auction of art this year was opened by Patch and sold approximately $42,000 worth of orphan art. The orphans in Maria’s care are fine examples of how humour and art can heal.
The Medical Director at the Turner Orthopoedic hospital, which was the last facility we visited, said this, “ There is a very interesting tendency in the 17 years Patch has been coming to our hospital. Every year the visit is brighter and better. Always time flies too quickly. There is only one negative moment ; tonight the children will not sleep too well! We love you all very much and always wait for your return. “
I have never felt so vital or alive in my life. For 16 days solid I was “in the moment” and connecting with others at a soul level. We laughed and cried together in mute understanding. Language was not a barrier as we laid open our hearts. I spoke only 3 words in Russian ..hello goodbye, and thankyou! Hello is privyet, goodbye is dos vodanyah, and pacibo is thankyou. I needed no other words to communicate.
The fact that humour influences both business and life is doubly fixed in my mind. We spent $360,000 to get there. A further $36,000 on giveaways, $72,000 on training and preparation, and $21,000 on incidentals such as phone calls, email and sundry items. The idea of service does not just belong to the health sector or charity. The “clowns” came from all walks of life and came together for the sake of humanity. Pacibo! My life will never be the same.
Orphan Art ” World of Harry Potter” 2004 St Petersburgh
Patch Adams son Lars
The song ‘Send in the Clown”s is a curious combination of humour and sadness.
A perfect title then to open on a journey by clowns into poverty and loneliness. Imagine 36 people from all over the world landing in Russia , in clown persona, to join Patch Adams on his 2004 Healing with Humour Tour. On a mission to visit hospitals and orphanages in Moscow and then St Petersburgh,, Patch Adams aim was for each clown to find and spend his clown self, make Russian friends, and experience first hand the disparity between rich and poor. The troupe was lead through over 30 facilities bringing them face to face with abject poverty, loneliness and helplessness .
At Sergiev Posad, the deaf dumb and blind school we saw great love and compassion. Poor though the facility was the children wanted for nothing in the way of developmental material and a caring environment. Most equipment had been made or sourced by the caregivers and was astounding in its ingenuity and creativity. Children were clean, dressed in worn but carefully pressed clothes. 36 clowns and 10 children painted a mural with rainbows, castles and butterflies. A child with autism who was also deaf, hummed to me for 45 minutes as she examined my left ear and we both experienced moments of joy and connection as we filled the gaps created in the humming sequence.
In the eyes of love
Jan Thatcher Adams, MD, Minnesota, has been on a number of tours with Patch. She says “Some things about winter in Russian cities don’t change– the endless gray days, the harsh, fume-filled air, the dingy buildings and Stalinist era block architecture. Life is hard here, and getting harder. Democracy and capitalism have meant, for the average person, an unprecedented poverty in the midst of stores jammed with western goods. Violence has shifted from state-sponsored to Russian mafia and routine criminal activity. The average life span for the Russian male is 56 years–in St. Petersburg, it’s 51 years. One Russian friend tells me that Americans, because they are so fortunate and spend their lives in the pursuit of material wealth, have lost track of their souls. We Russians are married to death. We know how to stay with our souls.”