Magic for Smiles - Programme
Magic for Smiles works in Jordan and Turkey.The charity is relatively young – the UK registration came through in March 2019. However, it builds on three years of previous field experience in humanitarian magic gained by Jamie Jibberish in Lebanon, the majority of which was pro bono. 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 community-based groups and UN organisations. We work through structured programmes such as psychosocial, protection, informal or formal education or even other sectors like hygiene. All shows are in Arabic and are conducted by our humanitarian magician Jamie Jibberish (real name Jamie Balfour-Paul), also the Founder.
WHAT DO WE DO?
MFS promotes the use of magic as a tool for enhancing wellbeing through psychosocial support amongst vulnerable and often traumatized children, mostly but not exclusively refugees. We perform magic shows and provide magic tuition. Since March 2019, MFS has focused on Jordan and Turkey working with and through other organisations; we also have three years field experience in Lebanon. These three countries have the highest per capita refugee populations in the world. More recently we’ve been offering the shows and tuition online (both recorded and live)
MFS has only one person hired for implementation – a performing magician and the Founder of MFS in 2016 (registered in 2019), Jamie Balfour-Paul (stage name Jamie Jibberish). He has almost 30 years experience as a humanitarian, alongside doing magic since he was a boy becoming full time in 2016. Thanks to working much of this time in the Middle East all work is done in Arabic where needed. Volunteers are engaged to help MFS when available, and partners support events conducted for and with them.
PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED?
War and conflict have robbed children of their childhood and replaced it with stress, trauma and lack of stimulation. These and other vulnerable children in communities which host refugees commonly have little opportunity to play, experience joy, or develop life skills, and increasing tensions between refugees and the host community exacerbate the situation. To address thse issues, the humanitarian sector has developed psychosocial support (PSS); however, the use of magic within PSS is almost entirely neglected.
HOW DO WE DELIVER?
Magic can help to restore the joy that has been robbed from vulnerable and often traumatized children. Through interactive exposure to magic shows and magic tuition children can experience a wide range of benefits including the following:
emotional – happiness, sense of wonder, overcoming boredom, hope
cognitive – analysis, imagination, concentration
social – interaction, trust-building, and, especially from tuition with the emphasis on performance, self-confidence and self-esteem.
One off shows or tuition sessions are beneficial acting as a memorable reference point, but repeated exposure is preferred and for which tuition is often the most practical option.
MFS aims to demonstrate the efficacy of using magic in this way in the hope that other actors, especially those with more resources, will replicate the idea within the PSS toolbox.
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 wellbeing of people in their social world, and can enable resilience and recovery after crises. Wellbeing is defined as a condition of holistic health and the process of achieving this condition.
LIST OF ORGANISATIONS WORKED WITH:
The programme has expanded to Jordan and Turkey since early 2019. Of late MFS has focused down on the numbers of organisations worked with so far 23 in Jordan and Turkey. In Lebanon we worked with over 150 organisations over 3 years, many of them several times.
Local organisations include:
Jordan: One Love Jordan, Good Shepherd School, Phialdephia Church, Steps (5 partners), Alliance Church
Turkey: Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants, Refugee Association, Small Projects Istanbul, IHH, Human Resource Development Foundation, Support to Life, Qnushyo, Yusra, Active Child Centre, Istanbul&I, Active Child Centre, Yuva, Refugee Association.
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.
International organisations include:
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, CARE Urban, IRD/Blumont – Azraq, UNRWA, Collateral Repair Project.
Turkey: Concern Worldwide, Flying Carpet Festival/Sirkhane
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.
In addition a number of private shows and events have been conducted to help subsidise the core business of humanitarian shows, latterly with the addition of illustrated talks and all in the form of UK fundraising events.
Jamie Jibberish - Humanitarian Magician
Jamie uses the stage name Jamie Jibberish because of his extensive use of his magic language to evoke a sense of mystery! He is in his 50s and has been performing magic since he was a boy, and part-time for varied audiences. After nearly 30 years as a professional humanitarian in various countries which experience provided a solid humanitarian foundation, in early 2016, he set up the initiative Magic for Smiles in Lebanon, and this is now a registered charity. Jamie devotes all his time to providing magic shows and magic tuition to vulnerable children in Jordan and Turkey, and previously in Lebanon, as a Humanitarian Magician. Children are mainly refugees from Syria, Palestine, Yemenis, Iraqis, Sudanese and others, but also vulnerable children from host populations. These children all need fun given the deprivation and trauma they have experienced. The smiles and sheer joy on the faces of these children is the driving force behind the work.
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