From time to time, you hear of people with a completely unrelated field of studies, excelling in something different which fills them with joy. Ioanna Fevranoglou, combines being a therapist and a clown; in a few words she is a “Clown-Doctor”, going by the name “Melenia”. We interviewed her to find out more.
TB: Could you introduce yourself?
IF: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk about what I do. My name is Ioanna Fevranoglou and I graduated from Deree with a double major in Marketing and Communications 5 years ago. I had a full-time scholarship and it was one of the best opportunities I had in my life.
It gave me all I needed to continue and to excel in everything that I wanted, liked and have dreamed of. I love Deree and I’m very happy to be back for this interview.
TB: What is your current job and what is a Clown-Doctor?
IF: I am a clown, a physiotherapist, and a nurse. In the next few months, I will graduate from the Medical University of Athens with a Master of Science in Metabolic Bone Diseases.
I have also been working as a clown since 1999, attending children’s parties and performing for them. So it is for some years now, that I combine those two things, the academic and medical path with my career as a clown. I am what is called a “Clown-Doctor.”
I visit sick kids in hospitals. That can range from patients suffering from cancer, a fracture, or even something minor. But, in the kids’ eyes, even a minor injury is very significant, because they are far away from their families, far away from their school. They’re in a hospital and they feel bad. So, what I try to do is to comfort them, by combining playing with them while they receive their treatment, making it a more fun experience.
TB: Can you take us through the origin and inception of the “Clown-Doctor”?
IF: “Clown-Doctors” existed many years before me. Most of them are professional actors or clowns, who visit hospitals or other organizations with people with special needs, but they have no medical background. What I do is something different. I study and combine these two functions; the idea of the “Clown-Doctor” existed in countries like New Zealand, Australia, Italy and the US. I got inspired and started this in Greece 10 years ago.
TB: How does being a “Clown-Doctor” impact those around you, particularly the patients?
IF: It doesn’t only impact the patients, but also their families. The parents feel very troubled when they see their kids suffering in bed.
So, what I do is try to comfort the kids and their parents. I do this through playing, as well as through teaching them how to deal with their illness. Generally, I customize what needs to be done depending on each case.
TB: This sounds like something very challenging, both for you and the families. What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
IF: It’s very difficult for me to do this constantly; I do it selectively, and on a volunteer basis, usually once a week and only when I am psychologically in a good mood. It would be difficult to do it every day!
TB: In other interviews you have mentioned being bullied in the workplace because of your work as a clown.
IF: And I still face it. There are people that don’t believe that I am both a clown and a physical therapist/nurse. They think that I am just a clown. They treat me as inferior just because I also work as a clown, but there is nothing inferior about it. No profession is inferior.
TB: What advice would you give to the parents of the kids going through tough times?
IF: To have patience. To study, and explore all available options. To ask for help, both psychological as well as material. And for that, there are people who can help.
That is pretty much it. And prayer. Some cases just need praying, nothing more.
TB: Did Deree help you in what you wanted to do?
IF: The Deree experience is one of the best experiences of my life. I believe that I wouldn’t be what I am today if it had not been for Deree. I would definitely love for my kids to be here, to feel and live this experience. One of the reasons I am emotional is because I’m here again.
TB: Have you got any future plans?
IF: If I had a magic wand, I would like to do this every day, to make a living out of it. I would love to see hospitals empty of sick kids; I would love to be able to visit even more kids in hospitals around Greece and not only in Athens where I currently work.