Robert Romme, chairman Foundation 'Read to Grow' (Aarle-Rixtel)
I first met Ray in the early stages of our Foundation Read to Grow. He told me that his dream was to become clown and that he was following a training course.
A year later, on the issue of the UNESCO World Book Day Award to the Regional International School in Eindhoven, we suddenly missed the representative of UNESCO. We had a few days to search for a replacement. and immediately Ray came to my mind as a stand-in.
Looking back we were very pleased that the guest speaker was absent because Ray actually was capable of learning the hundreds of children to read a book aload and then even singing the text together, namely 'Wheels of the bus go round and round'.
Ray is a clown by nature, and somehow he always knew he had this in him. Sometime later I personally attended two team workshops with him. These were both fascinating days where you got all happy. Every minute you are 'in real time', you really live, and your heart is opened. I am very pleased that he can bring smiles on the faces of children in Gambia, on schools with few resources, which the Foundation Read to Grow Foundation has now supplied with books. I enjoy that very much although I am even not present there.
Ray is as person a real inspiration source and a warm feeling man. I am glad that I met Ray, he has my full confidence and I hope that Foundation Read to Grow can reckon on him in the future.
Barbara Verhoef, creative therapist
A week in Romania where I was in full admiration and have enjoyed the clowns of Clowns for Life and the joy they give the children. It was impressive to see, that the clowns, including professional clown Ray Biemans, make contact with the children and together make a lot of fun. Ray knows as clown Flok to adapt to the feeling and level of each child. That skill is necessary in the game with the children who stay in the homes and special schools. This quality is not for everyone and I was impressed by the way Ray knew to connect and make contact. It was wonderful to see that the children became active and the clowns play encourages the children to participate, particularly in the making of noise and movement. I was surprised by the contact and interaction between the children and the clowns. Often by the smallest things such as playing with the elbows on the table so that noise and rhythms arises or a game with coloured shawls. In this way would the clowns remove a child from its isolation, even if only for a short time.
Many children who I have seen, entirely flourished on by the arrival of the clowns. It gives them pleasure. The children can be child for a while. During a performance in an urban neighbourhood the parents also saw that their children again were equally child. The clowns game itself gives parents a grip to go and play with their children, a thing which parents often forget, because they are so busy to survive. It is important that the clowns remain visiting Romania, so that the children learn to play again.
It reminded me that the children in Romania have few resources to develop themselves, and that it is often a question of survival, whereby playing, which children should do, is not as evident. The clowns can, with the few resources available, play with the children and leave an impression which is enriching and of great value. Children were delighted when they put all their school materials, such as exercise books and textbooks on a stack in the arms of a clown. Even Floks wand (toverstaf) was taken away and was placed on the pile. In addition, the clowns are an example of non-verbal communication. The children at school do get non-verbal communication as a subject. By looking and the interact with the clowns the children experience this subject in practice and it helps them in their development.
I enjoyed seeing children coming together more in the game with the clowns: rather individually playing their own game, the children now get a place in the group. Each child has a right to be there are according to the clowns. It was touching to see, that a child with a hydrocephalus (waterhoofd), burst out laughing in contact with clown Flok. The clowns have a valuable game to offer in Romania and I hope that they continue their work and that the children will have lots of fun with the clowns in the future.
Thank you for giving me this valuable and impressive journey with Clowns for Life.
Camille King, psychologist (USA)
I want to thank you for the opportunity to be invited into the world of Clowns For Life.
Such joy you brought into the lives of the children we visited and how you brightened my day. I was extremely impressed with your ability to be in the rhythm of each child. You seemed to know when to move forward and to hold back as each child needed. This is a gift not possessed by everyone. It was so touching to see children who were distant when you first entered the room to move forward and back until they were engulfing you in their world.
It was especially fascinating to watch how you were able to even enter the world of one boy whom, I strongly suspect, does not often let people into his world. You seemed to know instinctually where to find the "crack" in the wall he keeps around himself. Spending the morning with you, reminded me how important it is to take the time to have fun and that everyone needs to experience laughter, especially those who have the special struggles these children have. What a wonderful way to use your very obvious talents. I am looking forward to your return to Sibiu and am very hopeful that I will once again be able to be allowed to experience the magic you work when you enter the room.
Clown Ray visits schools in Scotland
Ray Biemans, clown, performer and coach is concerned in the work of foundation Read to Grow from the beginning. During a week in April 2009 Ray did 22 performances at many (international) schools in Scotland. These schools collect English books for many years now for Read to Grow. We are grateful for this book collection of Scotland and the inspiring organisation of Ian Laird. This year Read to Grow wanted to surprise these schools and do something in return to say “Thanks”. Therefore Ray Biemans has given clown performances. There were about 400 children every performance, one time even 600, consist of the little ones until adolescents.
The story of Ray about his clown performing:
“At the entrance I was polishing the wall with my feather-duster. Carefully I stepped over the threshold into the classroom. I got surprised to see the children. I even got a little shy. The children were giggling. They looked very surprised and awaiting what would happen. I looked around and said: “WAUW”. The children laughed. They were really enjoyed. I got shy and showed this to the children. They enjoyed themselves very much. “WAAUUUW”, I said. The children were laughing even louder.
“Waaauuuww” I responded again, “you came with so many, that is wonderful”.
The children responded with “Waauuww”.
A play excised with: “WAUW”. The children burst of laughter. So much joy with one word.
I conjured a banana out of my clowns suitcase. 370 children giggled and were calling: “eat it, eat it” I started toe at the banana off-hand and next an apple. The children were following all of my movements and fully enjoyed.
Then I changed into a conductor and sang along with the children the song: “Aramsansan”. The children, even the little ones sang along with me very enthusiastic. They imitated the movements that belong to the song.
I told them the story about to give the diamond. “When you get a book of your attic, which you don’t use anymore, then you will get a diamond of your attic. This diamond will be given from you to the children in Africa. The African children receive the diamond. By giving this diamond, African children have the chance to learn reading.
The children paid fully attention to the story of the diamond. They were really concerned. Some of them became conscious of they didn’t give a book yet. The director emphasized the purpose of foundation Read to Grow. During this week of clown performances 5000 extra books were collected. It is wonderful that the children became active and clown Ray encourages the children to participate.
Ray Biemans gave, as a clown and also as an ambassador more publicity in Scotland to the purpose of the work of Read to Grow. Because of his performances the children become more conscious of bring books form home for the book collection with World Book Day. They become aware of the need for books for children in developing countries.
Clown Ray brings joy and laughter. This gives children the motivation to pay attention and have joy in participating to World Book Day.
Clown Ray can, with few resources, play with the children and leave an impression which is enriching and of great value. Children were delighted
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