Sending in the clown to a refugee camp

Billy Cookie brings laughter and joy to children in Lebanon

Billy Cookie in his yellow clown braces and oversized glasses is doing his exasperated utmost to keep his parrot under control. But this pesky bird has a mind of its own, and that mind is set on mischief. And the kids love it.

These children are roaring with laughter, shouting and stretching their hands to the puppet, who snaps at their fingers with his soft yellow beak. Everything else is forgotten in a moment of pure joy. “I know how much they need this kind of show,” says Billy Cookie, aka Wissam Rajha. “They need to laugh and express emotion.”

“I love to make kids laugh.” – Billy Cookie

Need is all around in this refugee camp in Lebanon. You can see it in the eyes and feel it in the air.

The older men need to work, and their children need schooling. One in five can neither read nor write. Bible Society of Lebanon is setting up literacy classes to help them. And Bible Society is meeting an even more basic need felt by every child – the need to laugh and be lifted out of their circumstances, even for a moment.

That’s where Billy Cookie comes in. Children of all ages have poured out of their tents to watch the show. Their laughter is like a thunderclap that breaks the tension and brings a deluge of refreshing rain.

Wissam is a full-time worker at Bible Society of Lebanon, who visits prisons and schools. “I love to make kids laugh,” he grins. “God gave me this talent. I love to talk about God and about the message. And the kids like this.

“At [non-Christian] camps like this,” Wissam says, “I can’t talk directly about Jesus, but I can talk about the love, peace and joy of God who has created us and will take care of us.”

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