Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The 5th Annual Belen Festival

Living in Peru
16 July, 2010
by John Glick, Director, Gesundheit Global Outreach

The 5th Annual Belen Festival in Iquitos, Peru will be celebrated Aug 4-14, 2010 as 100 clowns from around the world join the people of Belen and local organizations to promote health and happiness through art, play, health care, education and collaborative volunteer work.

Belen, population 60,000, is a low income district in the city of Iquitos, Peru in the heart of the Amazon rain forest. Pueblo Libre, the section of Belen closest to the Itaya River, is home for 14,000 people, whose houses either float or are built on stilts, an adaptation to seasonal flooding.

Dr. Patch Adams, founder and director of Gesundheit! Institute and Wendy Ramos, founder and director of Lima-based Bolaroja Clown Doctors, led a group of clowns visiting Iquitos hospitals in 2006. While clowning in the streets of Belen — against the advice of local tour leaders — they were moved by the poverty and the joyful welcome they received. Adams and Ramos pledged to return, and during a community meeting the following year with Belen citizens, Gesundheit and Bolaroja pledged to bring clowns back once a year to paint every house in Pueblo Libre. Thus the Belen Project was born.




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