Indonesian clowns bring some cheer to children displaced by eruption

Dedy Rachmanto, 53, known as Dedy Delon who is the founder of a clowns' association named Aku Badut Indonesia or 'I Indonesia Clown', gives the books to children as a gift while performing a show to cheer them who were affected by the eruption of Mount Semeru volcano, inside a temporary tent in Penanggal, Candipuro district, Lumajang, East Java province, Indonesia on Dec 9, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters

LUMAJANG - Clowns brought a few moments of cheer to displaced children in Indonesia on Thursday (Dec 9), putting on a special show after a volcanic eruption killed 43 people and forced thousands to flee villages that were later blanketed in ash .

Evacuees clapped and laughed as red-nosed clowns dressed in neon wigs and multi-coloured costumes volunteered for a show of games and magic tricks in a tent in an evacuation camp in Lamajang on Indonesia's Java island.

The 3,676-metre (12,060 ft) Mount Semeru erupted on Saturday, sending a cloud of ash into the sky and dangerous flows of heated gas and volcanic matter into villages below.

"Our hope is that it can bring back children' happiness... there are many kids traumatised because of this eruption, and we hope that our presence here can give support to the kids," 53-year-old Dedy Delon, founder of the clown group, said.

Dedy and other members usually perform at birthday parties but spare some time for voluntary work. Their association is planning more shows for the survivors.

Ella Wijhatul, nine, got a present from the show and said she was looking forward to seeing more of the clowns.

More than 100,000 homes were partially damaged or destroyed after the weekend eruption and 6,000 were evacuated, according to the disaster agency.

Semeru is one of more than 100 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which straddles the "Pacific Ring of Fire", an area of high seismic activity atop multiple tectonic plates.