Project Illusion Colombia is an initiative that bets on the transformation of social realities through Clown. They participated in the RECON contest in the category of Artistic, Cultural and Sports Practices. They were selected among the 60 best initiatives of social entrepreneurship. Its creator, Jorge Enrique Giraldo, is our social entrepreneur of the week and told us about his project.
RECON: Who is Jorge Enrique Giraldo?
Jorge Giraldo: I am a Catholic missionary, clown, actor, theater director, pedagogue, Colombian Creator. Manager, founder, scenic and creative director of Tree Clown.
25 years ago the dream of creating illusion scenarios was embedded in my heart. To foster aesthetic dialogues as a reflection of the country and the reason for existing.
Believing that dedicating my life to being an artist is and will be the option of my life in a country like Colombia. Creating and believing in beauty as a transforming element of society, sowing it in the heart of each human being so that we can be happy. With this passion I wake up every morning. I think clown is the shortest way to achieve it.
It is already 20 years playing to be happy and five being absolutely happy. In this way I have staged more than 20 assemblies, given workshops in three countries and made shows in three continents.
REC: What does the Ilusión Colombia project do?
JG: Through Project Illusion Colombia, we reached areas of marked abandonment, we reached the deep and poor Colombia, with the purpose of going to meet others to know their realities.
We build a project that aims to contribute, to a certain extent, to ending the structural causes of poverty in Colombia. Inspire lives, incite hearts to look at broader horizons, change wrong cultural paradigms for the social transformation of the regions. This is our contribution; we do
it through the art of the clown (clown), the circus, music and classical dance. Laughter, humor and aesthetic display are fundamental ingredients, in a Colombia that dreams of emerging from backwardness and poverty.
We seek to tell and spread these processes as the face of a new Colombia that reinvents itself. Also as part of that wealth: its people. Take these stories to the cinema through high quality documentaries.
The first step is to reach the community, to generate a bond that allows us to earn their trust. To achieve that openness of the community it has been fundamental to work with the Catholic Church, it is not easy to reach communities that are within 8 hours in the jungle without someone to introduce you, because of the conditions of violence that our country has experienced, the arrival with the church reveals that we arrived in peace.
REC: What inspires you or leads you to do Clown with a social approach?
I am inspired by the possibility of being able to transform realities of suffering and that people can laugh at that. Someone once said in one of our workshops “you do not finish healing your misfortunes until you laugh at them”. It is nice to realize that life is not so serious and that you can live in a different way.
One of the things that makes me do what I do: I joined a mission of Catholic missionaries in a remote area, a place where there were only two priests, a nun and others of the church, there was no hospital or public officials. Seeing that they were there with the community, accompanying them and living their reality, I am motivated to want to live the same with beings that need support.
Some years ago I studied clown, but it was never thought of as a life option, but 6 years ago I decided to be 100% clown, because I want to be absolutely happy, and for this I must donate myself, and the best way is to be a clown.
REC: How did Ilusión Colombia come about?
Ilusion Colombia is inspired by a mission that I carried out in 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I presented a work for very poor children, but I had children from very high strata as guests, and at that moment I eliminated the barriers between them, I realized that I needed to do something to shorten those social and economic gaps between that deep and poor Colombia and the richest Colombia that suffers, because some have solved some things, and others, others, and together they find that the poor have known how to live with little and have found much more flavor and meaning in life than those who have everything. When these come together there is a mixture, a cocktail of hope and very nice help bonds are generated.
REC: What have you managed to do with Ilusión Colombia?
We already have our first short documentary: “What a clown laughs at when he laughs” presented at the Colombian film festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We have already visited the Chocó corregimientos twice, which has allowed us to advance in our pilot project. We were in Alta Guajira and also in the department of Putumayo. We have reached a total of 19 corregimientos of difficult access, presented theatrical shows in clown technique to approximately 7,000 people, mostly children and also youth and adults. We gave workshops to about 300 children in Chocó and Alta Guajira.
REC: What do you dream about what happens with your project?
I am making documentaries in the deep Colombia, to awaken in the big cities the interest to go to those places, I dream of generating camps for people to go and know those realities and that the children from there come here to the big cities.
I also dream of a large circus tent in the middle of the jungle, so that children and young people from these communities take ownership of their territory and offer artistic shows that boost tourism in their areas.
We are working on the structuring of a medium-term artistic training plan that combines different disciplines to be put together in a circus show; where the children and young people of these regions tell the country and the world the Colombia they want. It will be in three stages: Training, Assembly, Staging and Circulation.
REC: Why is your project a social enterprise?
A social enterprise is one in which the money generated is used to benefit the communities and it is also self-sustainable. My project is a social enterprise because I created a company with commercial purposes, called Play Box, with the purpose of using the profits I receive to finance the social part that we developed with Ilusión Colombia.
It is very difficult to get donations, so I turned my talent into a product to generate the resources I need, so I came up with the idea of creating a company called Play Box, which is a commercial venture to develop extraordinary experiences inside human teams in companies, through clown, improvisation and music, looking at how collaborators and leaders relate to their work every day, we seek to inspire the worker to make him find via his life purpose, that anchoring with the mission of the company. We make the worker improve their productivity after the experience, what we do is empower the employee in the way he develops his work. We do this through workshops.
REC: What advice would you give to other social entrepreneurs in the country?
JG: Let them listen to the desires of their heart. That they see what talents they have and can put at the service of people, especially those most in need. That they do not quit, one is tempted to every day but it is necessary to follow ahead.
Learn more about Illusion Colombia: