Magic for Smiles - Programme
The charity Magic for Smiles is relatively young – the UK registration came through in March 2019. However, it is informed by and builds on three years of previous field experience in humanitarian magic in Lebanon, the majority of which work was voluntary. We at MFS believe that magic improves the wellbeing of vulnerable and traumatised children, including refugees, by entertainment and other psychosocial benefits. MFS operates mainly through non-government organisations (NGOs) national and international who work with children – but also with other local groups. It is essential to work through structured programmes which are normally psychosocial, protection, informal or formal education or even other sectors like hygiene. All shows are in Arabic and there is currently one hired magician Jamie Jibberish (real name Jamie Balfour-Paul) for the delivery, supported by a board of experienced trustees (see governance tab).
Psychosocial refers to the dynamic relationship between the psychological and social dimensions of a person, where the one influences the other. Psychosocial support or PSS refers to the processes and actions that promote the holistic wellbing of people in their social world, and can enable resilience and recovery after crises.
The programme has expanded to Jordan and Turkey since early 2019. To date, shows have been conducted for over 150 organisations many of them several times, this year including 25 in Jordan and Turkey:
Local NGOs include:
Lebanon: Basma &Zeitouna, Beit Atfaal el Sumoud, Lebanese Red Cross, Sawa for Development and Aid, Caritas, Popular Committee – Bedawi, Scouts Bedawi, Fraternite, Children and Youth Association, Garsa self-help school Bekaa, Douma self-help school Bekaa, Home of Hope, Jusoor Syria, Tahaddi, Solidarite, Walaa Centre, Good Shepherd School, ULYP, Ramhala Village, Dar el Aytem (through Russian Speaking Womens Assoc), St Lukes Centre, BEAM, Utopia, Childrens Cancer Centre of Lebanon, Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA), SEED, Shams Network, Syrian Eyes, Barouk School, Game Lebanon, Joint Christian Committee, Himaya, Learning Centre for the Deaf, PARD, Al Jana, Insan, Mishwar.
Jordan: Collateral Repair Project, One Love Jordan, Steps, Good Shepherd School, Phialdephia Church, Steps (5 partners).
Turkey: Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants, Refugee Association, Small Projects Istanbul, IHH, Human Resource Development Foundation, Support to Life, Qnushyo, IHH, Yusra, Active Child Centre, Istanbul&!, .
International NGOs include:
Lebanon: SB Overseas, Amel Association International, Women Now International, Najda Now International, War Child, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, Intersos, Make Sense, Jesuit Refugee Service, UNRWA, Terres des Hommes – Italy, International Medical Corps, AVSI, Danish Refugee Council.
Jordan: MSF – France (hospital for reconstructive surgery), MSF-France – Mafraq mental health programme, Help Refugees schools – Azraq and Hope Centre Amman, Save the Children – Zaatari, CARE – Zaatari, Blumont – Azraq.
Turkey: Concern Worldwide, Flying Carpet Festival/Sirkhane
In addition a number of private shows and have been conducted to help subsidise the core business of humanitarian shows – birthday parties, clubs, restaurants – alongside UK based fundraising events.
Jamie Jibberish - Humanitarian Magician
Jamie uses the stage name Jamie Jibberish because of extensive use of magic language to excite the sense of mystery! He is in his 50s and has been performing magic since he was a boy, and part-time for varied audiences. Since early 2016, he set up the initiative Magic for Smiles which is now a registered charity. Jamie devotes all his time to providing magic shows to children in Lebanon, and more recently Jordan and Turkey, as a Humanitarian Magician. Children are in particular Syrian refugees as well as Palestinians, Yemenis, Iraqis but also host populations, on the basis that these children all need fun after experiencing a lot of deprivation and trauma. The smiles and sheer joy on the faces of these children is the driving force behind the work.
Jamie Jibberish – the previous humanitarian life
Prior to 2016 when he performed magic part time, Jamie worked as a professional humanitarian for most of 30 years, and particularly in the Middle East and North Africa as well as other parts of Africa. This provides a solid basis for humanitarian magic. Around half the time was in programming (from programme manager to Country Director) and the other half in campaigning on conflict situations to make change through various policy and campaign manager roles based in the UK and especially in the region. For most of this period he worked for Oxfam, as well as CARE and Crisis Action, and other organisations especially for consultancy. He lived in Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, the UK (with travel to Africa) and latterly Lebanon.
Magic for Smiles has a board of three trustees Daniela Lloyd-Williams, Jane Cocking, and Sheona Alexander. It has a strict safeguarding policy and there is a separate address for any child abuse complaints or concerns, firstname.lastname@example.org. The performing magician Jamie Jibberish is Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certified (certificate number 000933145646).
Daniela is Trust Manager of the J.A. Clark Charitable Trust, a small grant-making charity. She has worked in the international development sector for over 15 years in roles ranging from research, policy and advocacy to programme design and fundraising and now as a funder. Daniela became familiar with humanitarian work in Lebanon and Jordan when she worked for Oxfam in 2005 to 2009, other former employers include ADD International and I.F.A.D. Previous voluntary roles include governor of SS Mary and John Primary School, Oxford and treasurer of a German language toddler group. She has a PhD in Agricultural Economics and is currently studying for a MSc in Grantmaking and Philanthropy at Cass Business School, London.
Jane has been working in the humanitarian sector for 25 years. She has managed and led responses to many crises from Somalia to Syria. She has also been involved in key initiatives to improve the quality and accountability of the sector. After time with ODA and Save the Children Jane was with Oxfam for 19 years, 8 of them as Humanitarian Director of Oxfam GB. In January 2017 she joined MAG (The Mines Advisory Group) as Chief Executive. MAG is the largest humanitarian mine action NGO in the world.
Sheona Alexander has twenty years’ experience within the Charity sector, most recently the Director of a homeless and addiction charity in East London. She holds a diploma in integrative counselling and psychotherapy. Sheona was brought up in Lebanon during the civil war, and volunteered in Shatila camp in Beirut in 2011, with the privilege of seeing Jamie preform his first magic show back in Shatila in early 2016.
Refugee crisis in numbers - the example of Syria
More than 4.8 million Syrian refugees are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:
- Lebanon hosts approximately 1 million Syrian refugees which amounts to around one in five people in the country
- Jordan hosts approximately 655,675 Syrian refugees, which amounts to about 10% of the population
- Turkey hosts 2.7 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country worldwide
- Iraq where 3.1 million people are already internally displaced hosts 228,894 Syrian refugees
- Egypt hosts 115,204 Syrian refugees