The worst NGO, with smiles like that?

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Csf-soudan-2006-0861-300x200 Chris Blattman has been carrying on a war against clowns on his blog, claiming that Clowns Without Borders could very well be the worst NGO on the planet. (Full disclosure: I know some of the folks who help organize their events, but haven't been personally involved.) His reasoning?'s worth pointing out that people who wear masks and perform magic tricks in Africa are not, as a rule, objects of fun and merriment. Traditions vary from place to place, but my sense is that clowns = devilry in more places than not.

But maybe the children are not terrified.

So I'll try to remain open-minded, even if they probably do spend $10k per clown trip. "That $10k would probably not have been spent on clean water anyways" is not the best thing to recommend an NGO, but perhaps it doesn't make them the "worst".

Well, the clowns have recently arrived in Africa, and they received this email:

Dear Clowns Without Borders,

We had a wonderful experience today, I have not seen smiles on childrens faces like today, and not just that, there was a lot to learn from the experience. The attendace was much bigger than we had planned at such short notice: with number getting closer to 600, with students age between 4 and 19 years coming from the neighbourhoods of Kibera and other local schools on the Langata…. Liz, Kenya (Facilitator in Nairobi, May 17 2009)

So there, Chris, take that!


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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