About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

Circus Brings moments of joy to the dusty city of Afghanistan

by Bidita Debnath on April 25, 2013 at 11:55 PM
Font : A-A+

 Circus Brings moments of joy to the dusty city of Afghanistan

The organisers of a children's circus try to provide a splash of colour and some moments of joy in a dusty city of grey concrete blast walls where there's not always much to smile about.

The Kabul-based Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC) was founded in Afghanistan in 2002, months after the fall of the hardline Taliban Islamic regime which banned music and dance.


Fewer than one million children -- and no girls -- attended school nationwide at the time.

While other NGOs and government agencies focused on food, shelter and education, MMCC (www.afghanmmcc.org) strove to introduce "soft" values bringing children together to foster a more joyful atmosphere despite frequent hardship.

"It's a special circus," said founder David Mason, a former salsa and tango dance instructor from Denmark.

"It's a circus to educate, give meaning to life, make children happy, make them dream and realise their dreams and gain self-confidence and inspiration."

Professional adult artists tour and perform for children across the war-torn country.

In the past 11 years, Mason told AFP, the circus and its local partner the Afghan Educational Children's Circus have attracted a total live audience of more than 2.7 million people in 25 provinces.

At a show in Kabul on Sunday to mark World Circus Day, young performers in colourful cloaks circled a courtyard on rollerskates and headscarved girls showed off their juggling skills.

Children performed cartwheels and backward somersaults and formed human pyramids, dancing and clapping to entertain an audience of their peers from a camp for internally displaced people and an orphanage.

Conditions in the camps housing the country's half a million internal refugees are notoriously harsh. In the winter of 2011-2012 about 100 people, mostly children and the elderly, lost their lives in the cold.

"When you are living under a plastic sheet in a Kabul winter, then, hardship and surviving makes people forget about living. And then once you have survived, there's nothing much to live for," said Mason, 47.

The circus works to change that.

A total of 120 girls and boys attend a centre in Kabul after regular school hours to learn circus skills, going on to give performances in schools and refugee camps.

"They are semi-professionals," said Mason, co-director of the non-profit body with his partner Berit Muhlhausen. MMCC also draws on support from almost 100 international professionals and volunteers.

Enjoyment is the main message but the circus also stages hour-long educational performances starting with a Koran recital. They include messages lasting for 10-15 minutes on the importance of hygiene, school attendance, mine awareness and malaria prevention.

Children "never forget the messages because the music is there, the story is there, compared with traditional messages," Mason said.

But the overriding message is to be happy. "It's difficult to convince academics and people in power that having a reason to be joyful is a huge achievement, an aim in itself," he said.

Mason said he has "very good relations" with the education and culture ministries, and Deputy Culture Minister Nabi Farahi watched Sunday's show.

He told AFP that attention to children's art and talents "is really important in society. We can see that young Afghan people have a lot of talent."

Firouz, an 11-year-old who lives in a camp for internal refugees, also enjoyed the show. "This programme is fun," he said. "I'd like to learn how to juggle and do gymnastics. It's really good."

Every year the circus brings together children from across Afghanistan for major events such as festivals and children's assemblies. This, says MMCC, promotes unity in a multi-ethnic country.

The circus, which has also performed overseas, says 75 percent of all its activities are run and taught by children at a time when Afghanistan is taking control of its own future as the international community steps back.

"Over the past decade, the children and youngsters at (the circus) have developed the capacity to lead young people across Afghanistan," it says on its website.

"Their voices are the voices of Afghanistan's future."

Source: AFP

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 - Fighting for Rights in the Post-COVID Era
Effect of Blood Group Type on COVID-19 Risk and Severity
Woman with Rare Spinal Cord Defect from Birth Sues Doctor
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Recommended Reading
Elephants Law Being Viewed Skeptically by US Circuses
A proposed law in Congress that would ban using elephants under the big top is being opposed by US ....
Supreme Court Bans Child Labour in Circuses
India's Supreme Court orders travelling circuses to stop employing children and has ordered the ......
8ft Tall Chinese Circus Performer may be World's Tallest Man
An 8ft 1in tall man in China, who staggered staff at a hospital when he went there for a foot ......
Media Circus Around British Teen Parents Continue, DNA Test Results may be Opened Live
As the media circus around the British teen parents continue, DNA test results might be opened on .....

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use