By Pascal Lauener
The first time I meet Regula Kaltenrieder, a qualified acupuncturist, I didn’t know that she was one of the 200 Clown Doctors of the Theodora foundation.
The funny and loud crowd celebrated their 20th anniversary on the Federal Parliament Square in Bern. The foundation was founded in 1993 through the initiative of two brothers, André and Jan Poulie, who decided, in memory of their mother, to name the foundation Theodora. Outside Switzerland, the foundation is currently active in seven countries: England, Belarus, China, Spain, France, Italy and Turkey. After a chat with the media representative of the foundation and several phone calls and e-mails later they accepted a photographer to go on a visit with one of their clown doctors.
Last week I met Regula outside a Lebanese restaurant next to the main hospital, the Insel in Bern. She was drinking a cup of tea and chatting with four other women and the media representative of the foundation, who had to ask the parents for permission to take pictures during my visit with the clown doctor.
At 12:30 they grabbed their big cases on wheels, with all their clown equipment inside, and made their way towards the university children’s hospital. In a nurses cloak room hidden somewhere on a floor in the last corner of a corridor the transformation of the four women into clown doctors began. Changing from their street-ware in to colorful skirts, pants, big shoes and the typical red noses (only one was a blue one). But the biggest difference between an ordinary clown and a clown doctor is their colorful doctor overalls with their personalized name emblazoned on it. After every visit the clowns have to take their overalls to the dry cleaner, to prevent any communicable diseases from spreading.
In 2008 Regula started her work at the Theodora foundation to become a junior clown doctor. From July 2010 she performed for six days a month as Doctor Schmatz. After leaving the cloak room Doctor Schmatz and her colleagues ran through the gray corridors of the hospital cheering up people with their color and clown power on their way to meet their male colleagues.