I’m taking a break from the usual travel-related goffballery this week to add to the chorus of global concern about the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.
The juggling community has a soft spot for Afghanistan due to the wonderful work of the Afghan Circus, A.K.A. The Afghan Mobile Mini Circus for Children. (It appears their website hasn’t been updated for a while, but their Facebook page is reliably active. You can also follow the Afghan Circus on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.)
Like many things, the fate of the circus under Taliban rule is still unknown, but we hold out hope that they’ll be allowed to continue their work.
From their About page: “The Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC) and its local partner, the Afghan Educational Children’s Circus (AECC), together form a cooperative International/Afghan non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young people.”
The circus isn’t just a school and practice space. The children stage performances around Afghanistan and even abroad. According to their website, they have performed in front of 2.7 million people since 2002. Their shows “always include one or more educational shows about essential themes such as hygiene, peace, or traffic safety” as well as lessons on “the dangers of landmines and unexploded ordnance, in ways they can easily and much better understand.”
The circus is particularly important for girls, who have historically had few options for self-improvement, exercise and, well, opportunities for organized play. As you’ll see in the photos and videos below, the girls are mainly engaged in juggling, as things like acrobatics and unicycling (in other words, anything that requires them to spread their legs) is frowned upon. This was true even before Taliban rule.
As you can see, many of these girls are incredibly talented, which is even more impressive when you consider they’re often working with battered or homemade props. The juggling community sends the circus new and used props on a regular basis, but supplies and donations can be irregular, so they sometimes need to improvise.
Check out the girl juggling five empty plastic water bottles. Juggling light or irregularly-shaped items is hella difficult, never mind light AND irregularly-shaped items. I’ve been juggling for almost 40 years and I’m pretty sure I can’t do that.
I’m not going to prattle on here. I think the juggling and the children’s faces speak for themselves.