This article is originally published in Indonesian in the May 2015 edition of Travel 3Sixty Indonesia, the inflight magazine of AirAsia Indonesia. The original article can be found at pages 74-77 of the e-magazine at this link. The following is an English translation of the original article.
By: Iman Mahditama
For many Indonesian kids, circus training may seem to be a foreign concept. But this is not the case for more than 280 students of Red Nose Foundation who reside in two dense poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Jakarta. For them, circus is part of their daily lives. Circus teaches them to develop many positive attitudes, including self-confidence, teamwork, and courage to perform in front of a huge crowd. Some of its students have even traveled the world to perform in Myanmar, Poland, and the United States!
That Saturday night, on February 14, 2015, something awesome is brewing at the Mahabandula Park in downtown Yangon, Myanmar. It was five in the evening and, as usual, the park was filled with local people seeking a calm and relaxing respite from all the bustles of the town center. In one of the park’s pathways that lead to the main street, a group of circus artists were preparing themselves to entertain the audience.
The show that evening would be the final public event of the International Juggling Festival that had been going on for a week in Yangon. Hundreds of people began to fill up spaces on the street in front of the park and cheers and whoops began to fill the air. The circus artists took turns in performing on stage, displaying their skills and ingenuity and inciting wide-eyed awes and laughter from the audience.
Among the line-up of professional circus performers in the evening show, one group stood out. All of its members are still teenagers, between 14 and 19 years old. Moreover, all of them hailed from the poor fisherman village of Cilincing in North Jakarta.
They are Wawan Kurniawan, April Yanah, Ahmad Rais, Rini Astuti, Said Parlindungan, and Rika Ulan Dari. Despite growing up in a poor neighborhood, they dare to dream the impossible dream, shoot for the moon, and strive together to reach the skies and make their nation proud.
They participated in the International Juggling Festival in Yangon, Myanmar, as representatives from Red Nose Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Jakarta focusing in arts and education outreach for underprivileged children. The foundation’s mission is simple: to provide a safe place for kids and teenagers growing up in poverty-stricken neighborhoods to play, explore, experiment, and get educated. The ultimate goal is that these kids and teenagers can develop their potentials and explore their interests and talents in a safe and comfortable environment to empower themselves and to create a better future for themselves and the local community.