Patch Adams helps tsunami victims

Advocating laughter as the best medicine, a doctor - often dressed as a clown - is in Sri Lanka to help in the country's healing process from the December tsunami.

    Thousands have been left anguished by the tsunami

    The tall, lanky doctor, holding a dead fish, his hair dyed luminous blue and wearing clown's pants and shoes, jumps out of a tourist bus and runs into a Sri Lankan hospital tending to tsunami survivors.

    "Is that man looking for the psychiatric ward?" asked a bemused hospital doctor as she watched him lope past her in the direction of the children's wards, hospital security guards in hot pursuit.
    The man in the clown suit is Dr Hunter 'Patch' Adams, the American doctor who inspired a Robin Williams film and has been travelling the world hoping to change it with love and laughter. 
    Helping to rebuild

    "I decided to come to Sri Lanka as I have a great feeling of tragedy and desire to encourage people to rebuild after the tsunami," the West Virginia physician said in the battered southern coastal town of Karapitiya late on Tuesday. 
    "Laughter is the best medicine you know."

    "Laughter is the best medicine you know"

    Dr Hunter 'Patch' Adams

    Patch Adams, whose light-hearted approach to medicine was featured in the 1998 blockbuster of the same name, thinks the tsunami has changed the world for the better.
    "Do we bless the tsunami as it has for a moment made people forget their greed for power and think of humanity?" asked the doctor, who is known for his unorthodox approach of mixing humour with healing and making the sick laugh. 
    Travelling the world

    Over the years, Adams and his crew of clowns have travelled to refugee camps and cities in the Balkans, Africa, Afghanistan and Cambodia among others.
    The Karapitiya hospital handled more than 1200 bodies in the aftermath of the tsunami that killed about 40,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's southern, eastern and northern shores. 
    Patch Adams's team of 30 clowns wanted to help hospital staff and patients erase images of the dead from their minds and "bring some joy back into their lives".
    One clown raced down a dimly lit hospital ward on a unicycle, juggling oranges; another dressed like a macaw sprayed the wards with soap bubbles while a group of three clowns staged an impromptu puppet show for child cancer patients.
    Volunteering clowns

    "I am missing school but it is not bothering me in the least," 17-year old Sarah Collins, a high school student from the US and one of 11 volunteers on Adams's team of clowns, said. 

    "When the power of nature destroys, there is no one to blame. You have got to collect the pieces and move on your own, but the world did not forget these people"

    Patch Adams

    Adams, 59, and his clowns later visited displaced people living in tents near the place where the tsunami swept a train from its tracks, killing more than 1000 people, and played with children.
    "When the power of nature destroys, there is no one to blame. You have got to collect the pieces and move on your own, but the world did not forget these people," Adams said.
    "Giving and receiving love has become the world's currency after the tsunami."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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