People of Pakt: Marleen the Traveling Humanitarian Clown

People of Pakt is a new series of blog posts about people in our community with interesting stories. Got an interesting story of how you travel with your Pakt bag? Drop us a line

Here at Pakt we’re used to getting a lot of questions about what and how much the Pakt One can hold, and we’ve gotten pretty good at answering those! But we got one recently that stumped us:


Marlene the traveling clown wrote in and asked us if a Ukelele would fit in her Pakt One


Say what? A ukelele-carrying, world-traveling, humanitarian, minimalist clown? You could say our interest was piqued! Being the superwoman that she is, our operations manager Melissa rustled up her kids’ soprano ukelele and was able to confirm that yes, if you put it in at an angle, a ukelele would indeed fit. So we sent off our reply and carried on with our lives, hoping we’d convinced a prospective customer.

Cut to a couple of months later, and this follow-up came in:

The ukelele fits! Hooray!


What a triumph! The company Slack popped off with delight as we passed this message along. And not only that, but we decided we had to know more about Marleen aka Clown Pluk. So we sent her some questions, and here is her story: 


I have been a clown for over 12 years. I stumbled into it by accident. My day job is in a daycare centre for adults with special needs and I started as a clown in healthcare situations in the Netherlands.


I wanted to do more. My dad always taught me that you should use your talent to help others. In my case that is to be a clown. So my first humanitarian trip was with the American clown doctor 
Patch Adams (made famous by the movie) to Costa Rica. And after that trip I went with him to Russia every year and also visited Armenia. We visited orphanages, hospitals, hospices and shelters for the homeless and elderly. I also did other trips to Greece, France, Lebanon and Italy. Everybody needs a smile and even though cultures may differ all over the world, the clown character is loved everywhere. The clown just wants to be a friend, and friends respect each other. A visit can include a smile, a hug or a shoulder to cry on.

Unfortunately it is not a paid job, and I fundraise a lot to pay for my accommodation, flights, etc. For the last 12 years I have been doing one or two clown trips a year, taking time off from work whenever I can. This year I have saved money and taken time off from work to do full time humanitarian clown trips.


During all my travels I noticed I don’t need much as a clown. Most of the time I don’t even pack normal clothes and even fly in costume. So my luggage got lighter and lighter every time, but my old bag broke from all the miles traveled. That’s when I decided to get the Pakt bag. It will fit everything I need, including a ukelele and some clown noses to give to the children. 

Next year I want to help more refugee children all over the world and go back to places like Lebanon and Greece. Children deserve a happy childhood no matter where they are from and where they are now. And as clowns, we are able to bring a smile to them, even though they are in such stressful situations.


It is a small thing, but it can have a big impact. We do a show that stimulates fantasy and we teach juggling to help grow self-esteem. We can not take away the pain, but maybe we can help them forget, even if it is only for 15 minutes. 

You can read more about Marleens’s work here. We hope you’ll join us in sending her a donation using the PayPal button on her site so she can continue traveling the world to spread good cheer to some of the people who need it most!