Established in early 2016, Magic for Smiles (MFS) was set up to provide magic entertainment and experience for and with vulnerable children, especially but not only refugees, in Lebanon and in due course the region. It is run by Jamie Balfour-Paul using the stage name Jamie Jibberish due to extensive use of nonsense or magic language. Regular blog updates have been available but this is the first newsletter.
Jamie has worked to date with over 45 organisations performing across Lebanon in well over 100 shows. The initiative relies on fees where possible from large organisations, crowdfunding, subsidies drawn from private shows or public events, but is otherwise self- funded. It promotes the potential impact of magic over and above entertainment.
In the recent quarter since May 2017, Jamie has conducted 25 shows with a break in July in the UK (including attending the Edinburgh magic festival, and doing some shows). The period included the run up to and the month of Ramadan, a full week marked by World Refugee Day, and summer festivals.
Examples of the shows are as follows:
- Several Palestinian camps under the auspices of Beit Atfaal Alsummoud– in Shatilla, and
- Grossly under resourced refugee settlements in Akaar with Mishwar Amal and Relief and Reconciliation for Syria.
- Street kids and the Makhzoumi Foundation in the specially created Ramadan village in
- Activity centres and schools run by International Medical Corps and Secours Islamique France during World Refugee Week in five areas around the
- Aley-Z festival run by Ahla Fawda combining art, culture and education for thousands of
Magic tuition work has been possible but limited during this period, such is the number of kids with a preference expressed by organisations for touching the many rather than focus on a few trainees.
Potential mission to Jordan working with vulnerable refugee and local children. Jamie is also on standby for or a mission to Iraq based on the previous mission made in April. At the end of August, he will be joining the Yellow Days festival in Leros, Greece with Syrian refugees.
- Marketing is characterised by two campaigns on both humanitarian and private shows – through hashtags #comingtogether and #happysurprises respectively. Social media is increasingly targeted to further generate bookings with less reliance on bilateral outreach.
- The research element looking at the impact of magic within psychosocial support has been ongoing, but the formal engagement of an academic institution has been put on hold for bureaucratic
Al Arabiya Al Jadeed expressed great and immediate interest and provided coverage of the Makhzoumi shows in English and Arabic including an interview with Jamie (note an oversight – MFS has not yet started working in Jordan and not all shows are free as stated).
Sincere thanks to all for any support and interest in Magic for Smiles to date. And incase convenient, here is the crowdfunding link – still open for business!