European Year for Development

European Year for Development

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Christine and Sawsaneh

Christine and Sawsaneh

As soon as she puts on her red nose, she instantly becomes ‘Sawsaneh’, the clown. Christine Hodali, Palestinian actress, is getting ready to start her clown visits at the Beit Jala Government Hospital together with Izzat Natsheh, her clown partner, ‘Simsim’.

Sometimes it can take her several hours to reach the hospital, as she has to undergo intensive search procedures and questioning by armed soldiers at numerous checkpoints on her journey there. Despite these daily hindrances Sawsaneh and Simsim visit about 50 children face to face at their beds or while they undergo lengthy treatments lasting several hours. They know that their interaction with the little patients can assist in reducing anxiety and worries felt by not only the patient but also their loved ones. Happiness and hope fill the room even if for only a few minutes.

Christine loves being an actress, but making a living as a female artist in Palestine is not easy - mainly because women’s involvement in the performing arts is looked upon with scepticism. Never stopping to listen to her heart, Christine began to work in community theatre where she realised that the performing arts can be a powerful tool to raise awareness about important topics which cannot be discussed openly.

Being part of the cultural scene in Palestine, she heard about a new organisation looking for professional artists, especially actresses, to work as hospital clowns. In order to meet the needs of little patients, a special prerequisite for this form of art is to work in pairs, with a male and female actor together in a team.

Successfully passing the auditions at RED NOSES Clowndoctors, Christine realised that her duty is to help people by implementing her talent for acting effectively. From a professional point of view, bringing joy and laughter to sick children who are scared, crying and sometimes even traumatised, was not easy for her.

Very soon, thanks to constant training, she developed her own clown personality, ‘Sawsaneh’, and felt empowered by the tools she learned. Thus, experiencing the power of humour not only helped in her work in hospital but also helped her see life from a different perspective.

Now she takes matters in her own hands instead of waiting for a miracle to happen. She is literally able to directly bring happiness into people’s lives.  For her, laughter is even a very powerful tool for bringing positive changes into society.

As an actress, Christine helps changing perceptions not only towards culture and development but also raises awareness of the contributions female artists make to society. This is especially the case in areas of the world where barriers stand high and are still very challenging.

About the partner

RED NOSES Clowndoctors International

RED NOSES Clowndoctors International (RNI) is the umbrella organisation of the largest clowndoctor group in the world. More...

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As a young, female artist I have a regular source of income and I am enriched by the feeling of being able to give something back to society.

- Christine Hodali, Palestinian actress and RED NOSES Clown

RED NOSES in Palestine

  • RED NOSES has been working since 2005 in the Palestinian Territories.
  • In 2014 twelve clowndoctors were visting more than 10.000 children at their bedside in hospitals - 5 of these clowndoctors were women.
  • RED NOSES are doing clown visits in four hospitals (East Jerusalem, Bethlehem / Beit Jala, Ramallah and Hebron).
  • A visit from RED NOSES clowns greatly helps to improve the emotional state of patients and is often able to convey to children a sense of security and joy of life.
  • RED NOSES activities in Palestine are co-financed by the Austrian Development Agency.

Source: RED NOSES Clowndoctors International