Yazidis traumatized in Iraq learn to be medical clowns in Israel

Yazidis persecuted by ISIS in Iraq were in Israel to learn how to become medical clowns so they can help their war-ravaged brethren back home.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A small group of Yazidis from Iraq recently visited Israel to receive training in medical clowning to help children in need of medical treatment or post-traumatic stress disorder in their home country, said Israel’s foreign ministry Sunday.

The five participants in the special training program left Israel at the end of last week with new tools and techniques that will enable them to get people who have managed to survive years of civil war and terrorist outrages in Iraq to smile, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender – or age.

The training was prepared by the Israeli “Dream Doctors Project,” which trains such clowns and works to promote medical clowning as an officially recognized paraprofessional medical profession recognized through proper academic training. Other partners that helped in this unique international venture were the British Road to Peace organization, the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As noted by Hadassah’s Children Site, “Laughter, like exercise, can reduce stress, improve tolerance to pain and alter bodily functions.”

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These advantages, of course, are not limited to children, so although the clowns may focus on kids, it goes without saying that their anxious and tense parents may enjoy some healing as well as they watch the performance.

The medical clowns motivate children to have a positive attitude and turn necessary exercises into fun activities. Since the clowns stay only if invited, they allow the children to have a sense of control over at least one thing in a place where everything else is out of their control.

Israel, the site says, is considered a world leader in the medical clowning field.

The mass murder of Yazidis in their ancestral lands in the Sinjar region of Iraq, perpetrated by ISIS terrorists during 2014, is recognized by the UN as a genocide. Calling them “devil worshippers” and infidels, the Islamic terrorists forced many to choose between conversion to Islam or execution. They also kidnapped thousands of women and girls to be used as sex slaves, few of whom ever returned.

Founded in 2014, Road to Peace, which helped bring the Yazidis to Israel, helps build alliances among communities in conflict zones and assists in the provision of medical care to sick and wounded children. The organization recently set up a pediatric unit in Sinjar to provide emergency health care to local children, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from the years of fighting in the region.